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tute of proselytes; and that when you come to know the world more, you will find this ftudy nezlected to a degree you little imagined. But 'uis reasons, not examples, will determine you. To come therefore to them ; let me in the
I. First place, observe to you, that the study: of the Scriptures, such a thorough study of them I mean, as you aim at, is extremely difficult, and not to be successfully pursued, without a very great and constant application, and a previous knowledge of many other parts of useful learning. The New Testament cannot be understood without the Old; the truths revealed in one, are grounded on the prophifies contain. ed in the other ; which makes the study of the whole Scriptures necessary to him, that would understand thoroughly a part of them. Nor can the Apocryphal books, how much foever they are generally sighted, be safely neglected; there being a great charm of five hundred years between the end of the Prophets, and the beginoing of the Gospel; which period is of the greatest use for the understanding of the New Teftament, and yet is the least known: But now, if the Ord Testament must be well liudied, a good knowledge of the Orien:al tongues is: absolutely necessary. No man can be ignoA 5
rant, who knows any thing of letters, that no versions of old books can be thoroughly de. pended on; the mistakes are so many, and sometimes of great moment; especially the versions of books writ in a language little underfood, and many parts of it in a style extremely
figurative, and those figures such as these parts an of the world are almost wholly strangers to. : But put the case these difficulties were less than
they are, is it an easy matter to add to Greek and Latin the knowledge of so many other lan
guages? Do not they two alone find work ?... enough for most scholars ?. What pains then
must a man take, if he will study so many others ", besides ? And if the knowledge of the Old 13, Teftament could be dispensed with, give me
jeave to tell you that the language even of the
New teliament is not to be understood with so · little pains as is commonly imagined. . , 'Tis : learnt indeed in schools, and from hence - thought to be the casieft Greek that can be
read; but they who have read it in another manner than school-boys, know it to be quite otherwise. Not to mention the difficulties peculiar to St. Paul, whose epistles are a very great part of the New Testament; Plate and Demofthenes are in many respects pot so hard, as cueo the eafier books. . The style indeed of the historical books, is plain and simple; but
for all that, even these parts have their difficulty. And the whole is writ in a language pe. culiar to the Jews: The idiom'is Hebrew or Syriac, though the words be Greek; which makes fome knowledge of those languages, still necessary.
Again, though it were not necessary to read the Old Testament in the original, yet the Greek i version of it must be read, and that carefully; · it being oftentimes the best, if not the only help,
- to explain the language of the New; besides :, that all citations in the New, are generally
made from it. But now, how laborious a thing must it be, to study an ill version of a very hard book, which we cannot read in the ori. ginal? I call it an ill version ; for though it be
indeed a very good one, considering the time - it was writ in; yet as a verfion, it must be al1 lowed by those who can judge of it, to be far 2. from being exact or true. A man need only *' consult it on some hard places in the Penta*?teuch, as well as in the Poetick or Prophetick
Books, to be convinced of this. 'Twas certain*.? Jy far from perfect at first; and is made much *,' worfe by the corruptions' it has suffered in
hariding down to us : So that I may venture to t" affirm, that should any body now-a-days make
a version so imperfect; instead of admiration 14.9 m?litással? A6 is
and esteem, his work would be much despised by most of our modern criticks.
I might to these add many other difficuliis that attend a serious study of the New Testament. It requires a good knowledge of the Jewis late at the time of our Saviour's coming, a knowledge of their government, faoedrim, fynagogues, customs, traditions, opinions, sects; the kinds of learning received' among them ; what they borrowed from the Greeks; when their mystical and allegorical manner of expounding: the Scriptures began, and on what grounds; what their particular expectations were, in re. lation to the Messiah ; and what they taught, and on what grounds, in relation to angels, dæmons, possessions, oracles; miracles, &i..
But 'eis in vain, you say, 10 telli you of difficulties : You are resolved not to be deterred: : You have time before you, good eyes, a strong:
conftitution, a mind prepared for fatigue, a. reasonable degree of skill in the languages, and; are furnished with a competent knowledge in: all the parts of useful learning that are preparatory to this ludy; fo that difficulties animate: rather than dishearten. you. And I am not unwilling so far to agree with you, that were there no objection against this study, but the difi.ulty ; this alone should not deter one who. is so well prepared for it. But if you are able 10° go through so laborious a study, I presume you are not fond of difficulties for difficulties sake. You cannot think it reasonable to take for much pains, unless it will turn 10. fime goodi account. I hall therefore ia ilie .
II. Second place take leave to ask, Cüi'lonom What good can come of such pains ? For it may seem, that a free, serious, impurtial and laboricus ftudy of the Scriptures, will be of 20 great service ;. for the following reasons..
if. Becaufe 'tis plain the orthodox faith is not founded on a nice and critical knowledge of the Scriptures. Many of the antient chrifa tians, 'twill be allowed, were not great critics;: but argued very much in a'mystical way. Orie gen in particular, who was the greatest scholar Christianity had bred to that time, perpetually turns the letter of Scripture into allegory. From whence we may reasonably conclude, that the knowledge of the bare literal sense, was, in the judgment of many even in those times, thought to be of little use.
But 2:lly, 'Tis certain that the original l'inguage of the Old Testament was known to very few, for the first fix centuries, in which those general councils were held, wherein all the ar