« AnteriorContinuar »
jargon to, unless the reveries of a Jacob Bochman, or the flights of a Zinzindorf; the Aurora of the first being the blackness of darknefs; and the fpiritual extacy of the latter, being madness volatilized.
Thus it is when reafon abdicates her throne, and piety forfakes the heart, that wild imaginations poffefs the one, and fatal delufion fascinates the other-a state indeed truly deplorable and wretched. But, tell it not in Gath, publish it not in Afkelon, tell it not among the enemies of christianity, publish it not among modern deifts, that profeffing teachers of the gospel have, to the discredit even of common fenfe, endeavoured to build ideal theories on the bafis of revelation; but as the example of fuffering fuch things to pass unnoticed, might prove injurious to the cause of religion, by influencing the minds of ignorant people, or by encouraging defigning perfons, who, for interested motives, are ever ambitious of becoming the founders of new fects, I fhall trouble the reader with a few remarks on fome writers, among whom I am forry to name gentlemen whose good difpofitions and fincere attachment to religion, deferve the highest applaufe; whilst at the fame time their writings, having a tendency
dency to promote fanciful interpretations of the fcripture, and thereby to do more mifchief than they themselves are aware of, ought not to be paffed by, without fome obfervations I fhall therefore first begin with
Dean Digby's Lectures.
REMARKS ON DEAN DIGBY'S LECTURES.
HE purity of the author's intention, and the goodness of his character is such, as entitle him to every indulgence; I will not therefore say, that by yielding to his fancy, he has purposely broached any new theory inimical to religion. But as there are better and more folid arguments to vindicate the effentials of the chriftian doctrine, than having recourse to weak rabbinical modes of torturing meanings from Hebrew roots, I muft totally, in this respect, differ from him; how far juftly will appear.
In his preface he fets out, as indeed do all the Hutchinfonians, with removing those impediments and ftumbling blocks which seem cast in their way; and who could imagine that the Hebrew points should be confidered as the greatest obstacle? and such indeed they are-but they must be got out of the
the way. "The points are certain small characters of modern invention, forged by the Maforite Jews about the feventh century." Now if it had been faid that the points were certain characters of modern invention modern invention being fo prolific in monster. productions-it might be thought by some readers, that points were prodigious large characters; therefore the propriety of adding the epithet Small is evident. But this being granted, it remains ftill to prove that they are of modern invention, and that if they are, why to be rejected?
It is not ftrange that perfons who are fond of their own dreams, and the phantafms of a fickly imagination, are, for the most part, inclined to exclude the ufe of points. But that men of learning fhould imagine that the Hebrew, after it had ceafed to be a living language, could have been preferved without an early invention of vowels and accents, is to me very furprifing. The improper use made of them is indeed justly to be cenfured; but why do the difciples of Hutchinfon totally exclude them? is it not to indulge themselves in the greater latitude?
The above quotation recited perhaps from the Univerfal History, does not even corres
pond with the opinion of Aben Ezra, who imagined the Maforites to have been the Sapientes Tiberiadis, who, in the year of our Lord five hundred and fix, added the marginal notes to the Bible; which opinion is refuted, as there was no feminary of literature in Tiberias, of longer continuance than within four hundred years after the Nativity of Chrift; and as the Maforites are mentioned in both Talmuds. R. Afarias, and R. Gedeliah fay, with greater probability, that the Maforites were Haggai Malachi and others, who continued their deliberations on reforming the facred text for forty years. For Simeon, the juft, who went out to meet Alexander the Great, was the laft of that venerable council, about three hundred years before Chrift: and it is probable, that as the Keri and Cetib were their invention, that the vowel points were alfo. Nor can I poffibly conceive, how any language could have been left for a series of time fubject to a difcretional pronunciation, especially one liable to be perverted according to caprice or fancy. Nay, in that cafe. I am perfuaded, the facred text would not have been tranfmitted down to us in the ftate of prefervation we now find it.
The most learned opponents of the antiquity of the vowel points, make conceffions