« AnteriorContinuar »
to work a miracle to prove his inspiration. Otherwise we must just treat him like another man. Mark! the point of difference here is not whether the Spirit strives with men! This is admitted. But it is whether he strives in every man and without outward means, according to the scheme of the inward light? So says Barclay :-he asserts that he does. We call for proof:—there is none! Why then does not his assertion fall by its own sluggishness, having nothing to support it? 0–Because he is inspired! We call again for proof: NONE! Why then must we believe him? Is it because he was so learned? We answer, whatever his general learning might have been, it was all nothing unless he was specially well versed in Hebrew philology and criticism ; and even then his assertion is insufficient. When a man tells how a text ought to be translated, a most important text and a most cardinal alteration, and yet gives us not one syllable of evidence on which to found his assertion, we ought to be wont to defer very much indeed, censurably much, to his lore and correctness as a Hebrean, or more to his inspiration, in order to give any confidence at all to his opinion! Barclay's Hebrew knowledge however is very questionable. It is my opinion that he knew little or nothing of the language.
-ren ,בָאָדָם Our translation of the original word
dered in our Bible with man, may safely be pronounced a correct one. If there be a question in the case, it all turns on the first letter of the word. The prepositional prefix ), is rendered with by our translators and in by Barclay. He says it ought to be in. But how does he know this? Is it because the letter ), means in and only in, according to general grammatical usage, when so prefixed to nouns? If this were a fact, it would seem to justify his assertion and greatly assist him. But the misfortune of his predicament is that the fact is otherwise. To mention one case of a thousand, it is rendered with six times in one verse ; Exod. 10 : 9. means almost any thing, as it is situated. It is a preposition of notoriously large and generic signification. One must always look at the nature of the case to know how to render it. Our Lexicons give a numerous retinue of meanings in its definition. Parkhurst has numerically thirteen ! For the sake of general readers we will state them and others. In, within, among, when, because, to, against, with, together with, concerning, of, into, by, by means of, after, for, on account of, according to, upon, above, are all given as forms of its meaning in different circumstances. Now look at the assertion! He takes one meaning out of twenty, and decides without any reason offered that such is what it ought there to have! The Lexicon of Gesenius by Gibbs contains the following remarks, on as a prefix preposition ; it is one “occurring in
a various connections and significations, which in other languages must be expressed by many different particles.” It then proceeds to give the different meanings and formally enumerates nineteen with references and proofs. At best it can determine nothing in the case. On the score of philo
logy therefore the assertion of Barclay is good for nothing. The error is the more reprehensible that the matter is so important! It is all in the controversy, if it decides the point in favor of his doctrine of the light within.
I allege further that it is an awkward and unnatural rendering, which it ought not to have; that there is no necessity of supposing any immediate objective manifestation to the antediluvians either within or without them, since we know of the existence of mediate ones, quite adequate to answer the demands of the case; and that there is nothing in the condition of the church or of mankind, before the scriptures began to be written, that requires or warrants the theory of Friends. A word on each of these, superfluous indeed for the critic, but perhaps needful for others.
(1) The passage ought not to be rendered as Barclay decides, because his way is awkward and unnatural. We have seen that there exists no grammatical necessity for his version. I now assert that it is destitute of all intrinsic propriety. The sense of the verse is liberally this : My Spirit shall not be striving with man forever or for an indefinite period; for he is mortal, carnal, rebellious: I will bring the matter to some end and issue, and thence appoint him 120 years of further trial ; at the expiration of which period I will drown all the world with a flood. As if he had said I will not always and to no result be dealing with man, and bearing with him. My Spirit of truth and mercy shall not always be treating, and striving, and forbearing, with him to no purpose ; I will take measures to cut it short in judgment : the controversy shall be settled. The longevity of the antediluvians made such a procedure aptly proper; and 120 years was to them but a short respite, so long was their life. It was but a brief appendix to the age of one of them who was old; but when it was for all, young and old together, it was solemn, it was terrible! The reason was, and this is the natural rendering, that God would not be always, and to no result, treating and contesting WITH man. In common negociations between contending parties, it is common, it is natural, for one of them to say, you know my terms; I will not waste time or dally with you, as if this treating WITH you were to continue for ever. I will limit (1 time, say one month, within which you must decide. This will better appear, when we consider,
(2) That there is no necessity of supposing any “IMMEDIATE objective manifestation” to the antediluvians, either within or without them, since WE KNOW of the cxistence of NEDIATE ones, quite adequate to answer the demands of the case. We are informed of the preaching of Noah to them; of the vast operations, constantly advancing through the whole period, in the building of the ark, which solemnly warned them of the approaching deluge; and of other means which they enjoyed in wonderful advantage and perfection :-by all which means the Spirit of Jehovah strove with that evil generation.
The facilities of tradition, connected with the fact
of genuine and decided piety, down to the period to which the text refers, and even after it, demonstrate the plenitude of outward means. Our positions here are that outward means are necessary; that the word of God is the grand instrument for ever; and that, whether this word be written or spoken, delivered by oral prophecy or oral tradition, it is the outwardly ministered word of God, and not any internal objective manifestation apart from it, by which his Spirit strives with men in all ages. We believe indeed in the inward objective manifestation occasionally and extraordinarily made to his prophets by the Spirit: but then we also hold that these were most generally made to be written or spoken for the sake of others, and so were peculiar to the prophet as such ; of course they were not, as such, a universal inward light; and when communicated, though they were objective, they were not immediate; since holy men spake, preached, taught, worshipped, and labored for the souls of men : and thus God strove with them, in kind, not in degree, and form, exactly as he does with us. Our knowledge of those ancient ages is indeed very general and limited. But it is not therefore indefinite ; we know enough to authorise the inference that they well knew the will of God by ordinary outward means and the occasional inspiration of a prophet; either (and much more both) of which ways shows the non-necessity of the theory of Friends to account for the whole matter ; for it is obvious that Barclay and others suppose (wild as is the sentiment) that the mere fact that God strove with men, and communed with them by his Spirit, before the scrip