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$ 12. The methods by which our opponents, on this article, support their hypothesis are, I say, unsatisfactory. There are such negligencies in the style, even of the best writers, as to render it unsafe to pronounce on the goodness of an expression which we have only once met with, though in a celebrated author. Much less ought a singular phrase found in one single classic, similar to an idiom frequent in the New Testament, to be accounted evidence that the idiom was in general, and approved, use, which always determines purity in every tongue. The singularity, in the one case, opposed to the frequency in the other, should lead us to a very different conclusion. The evidence cannot be more satisfactory which arises from a particular turn of expression occurring in some poetical work, and coinciding with an idiom current in the New Testament, which is written in prose. We know that the Greek poetry had a peculiar dialect, and many peculiar words; and that their poets were, by the laws of their versification, allowed a latitude, in this respect, with which their prose writers were not indulged: nor is there any thing that their critics more loudly condemn, as savouring of artifice and affectation, than what may be called a poetic phraseology in prose. Let it not be imagined that I think the sacred penmen chargeable with any thing affected or artificial in their phraseology. There is no character of style for which they are more distinguishable than the reverse. But what would be justly denominated artificial, affected, and foreign, in a native of Attica, might be the result of the most undesigning and natural simplicity, in an inhabitant of Palestine, because conformable to the idioms of his native language. Further, a strong resemblance, in an expression admitted to be classical, will not suffice for removing the charge of foreign idiom from the resembling but different expression. In most cases, nothing less than identity will serve 20. Recourse to synonymas, analogy, and etymology, is ne
as opposed to that which is internal and moral, as in Gal. iji. 3. Having begun in the spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh ?--sometimes, 5thly, the sensitive part of our nature, the seat of appetite, as in 2 Cor. vii. 1. Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, where there can be no doubt that the pollutions of the flesh must be those of the appe. tites, being opposed to the pollutions of the spirit or those of the passions. 6thly, and lastly, It is employed to denote any principle of vice and moral pravity of whatever kind. Thus among the works of the flesh (Gal. v. 19, 20, 21.) are number. ed not only adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, drunkenness, and revellings, which all relate to criminal indulgences of appetite, but idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, and murders, which are manifestly vices of a different kind, and hold more of the diabolical nature than of the beastly. Now, for any of the six meanings above mentioned, except'perhaps the first, as to which I will not be positive, we may defy those cri. tics to produce classical authority. Yet no man accustomed to the oriental idiom, and the style of the sacred writers, can mis. take the sense in any of the passages quoted.
20 I shall illustrate this by an example in regard to which every English reader can with safety be more decisive than even
cessary and often successful in discovering the sense of an obscure expression, whereof nothing less than
men of literature are qualified to be in regard to an example taken from a dead language. In a letter during the late war from the captain of a French privateer to the magistrates of a seaport, demanding a contribution, and threatening in case of non-compliance to destroy the town, there was this expression, “I will make my duty.” No Englishman, we are certain, would have expressed himself so, unless he had done it for a dis. guise. Yet I can easily conceive that a foreigner, who has learnt our language only by book, might speciously maintain, that the expression, so far from being a Gallicism, is unexceptionable English. “ Is it not,” he would argue, common to say,
1 will do my duty ? Now, if this expression be classical, where is the impropriety in substituting one synonymous word for an. other?” And to show that do and make are synonymous, he might urge, first, that in most other tongues one word serves for both. Thus each of them is rendered into Latin, facere ; into Italian, fare; into French, faire. Secondly, though he had not found, in any English book, the identical phrase, to make duty, he could produce expressions in which there is an entire similarity. To make court, to make obeisance, are both good; nay, it strengthens the argument, that to do obeisance, is also used, in the same signification. Shakespear says, “ What make they there?” which is equivalent to, What do they there? Dryden speaks of “the faults he had made;" though doubtless the more usual expression would have been “ the faults he had done.” Now, from the first principles of analogy, we are war. rented to conclude, that if making a fault be proper to express doing wrong, making a duty is proper to express doing right, All this is very plausible, and would, probably, be sufficient to convince most strangers, but would only extort a smile from an intelligent native, on whom a thousand such arguments could make no impression. Yet I will venture to affirm that, if there
the use of good authors will warrant the propriety or elegance. Sufficient evidence in the one case, is often no evidence in the other.
8 13. BLACKWALL 21 admits freely that there are many
Hebraisms in the New Testament, at the same time asserting that they are real beauties, which add both vigour and ornament to the expression. In this opinion, if he was serious, I believe that, upon examination, we shall not be found to differ. Abstracting from that lowest kind of beauty in language, which results from its softness and harmony, considered as an object to the ear, every excellency of style is relative, arising solely from its fitness for producing, in the mind of the reader, the end intended by
be no solidity in this reasoning, nine tenths of what has been so pompously produced, to show that the supposed Hebraisms of the New Testamentare in the genuine idiom of the Greek tongue, are no better than arrant trifling. It was to triflers of this sort that Chrysostom said very appositely, Iνα μη καταγελωμεθα ετω διαλεγομενοι προς Ελληνας, επειδαν ημιν προς αυτες αγων ην, καταγορώμεν αποσολων ως αμαθων, η γαρ κατηγορια αυτη εγκωμιον. Chrys. Hom. 3. in 1 Cor. i. “ That we may not render ourselves ridi. “ culous, arguing thus with Grecians, for our dispute is with “ them; let us accuse the Apostles of being illiterate, for this
accusation is an encomium.” Origen goes still farther, and Says, Ουκ ασυναισθητοι οι αποσολοι τυγχανοντες των εν οις προσκοπτασι, φασιν ιδιωται είναι τω λογω, αλλ' και τη γνωσει. Ρhiloc. c. 4. 66 The Apostles, not insensible of their own defects, profess " themselves to be of the vulgar in speech, but not ip knowledge.”
21 Sacr. Class. Part I. Ch. 1.
the writer. Now in this view it is evident, that a style and manner may, to readers of one denomination, convey the writer's sentiments with energy as well as perspicuity, which, to those of a different denomination, would convey them feebly, darkly, and, when judged by their rules of propriety, improperly. This I take to have been actually the case with the writers of the New Testament. I speak particulary of the historical books. I look upon the language of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as better adapted to the readers for whose use the Gospels and Acts were at first composed, than the language of Plato or Demosthenes would have been.
I should, at the same time, think it unreasonable to deny that the latter must have been more intellegible to an Athenian, and much more pleasing, nervous, and animated, than the former. Nay, if such a one had even denominated the idiom of the New Testament barbarous, I should not have thought it an unpardonable offence. The word indeed sounds harshly ; but we know that, from the mouths of native Greeks, it could only mean that the idiom of that book is not conformable to the rules of their grammarians and rhetoricians, and to the practice of their writers of reputation ; a concession which we may easily make them, without derogating, in the least, from the Apostles and Evangelists ;-a concession which (as was observed before) the most learned and oratorical of the Greek fathers did not scruple to make. In such cases, it is evident, that a native