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mon course of fashion, which descends from the higher ranks to the lower, it arose among the lowest classes, and ascended to the highest. Not only nobles and senators, but even philosophers and men of letters, the pupils of sophists and rhetoricians, who by the prejudices of their education would be most shocked with the inelegancies, the vulgarisms, and even the barbarisms (as they would account them), of the sacred writers, found a secret and irresistible attraction, which overcame all their prepossessions, and compelled them to acknowledge, that no writers could so effectually convey conviction to the understanding, and reformation to the heart, as these poor, homely, artless, and unlettered Galileans.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE RIGHT METHOD OF PROCEEDING IN THE CRITI.
CAL EXAMINATION OF THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
It was remarked, in a foregoing Dissertation, ' that, notwithstanding the sameness both of the language and of the idiom employed by the penmen of the New Testament, there is a sensible diversity in their styles. The first general rule, therefore, which demands the attention of him who would employ himself in searching the Scriptures, is to endeavour to get acquainted with each writer's style, and, as he proceeds in the examination, to observe his manner of composition, both in sentences and in paragraphs, to remark the words and phrases peculiar to him, and the peculiar application which he may sometimes make of ordinary words ; for there are few of those writers who have not their peculiarities, in all the respects now mentioned. This acquaintance with each can be attained only, by the frequent and attentive reading of his works, in his own language.
1 Diss. I. Part II. § 1.
12. The second general direction is to inquire carefully, as far as is compatible with the distance of time, and the other disadvantages we labour un. der, into the character, the situation, and the office of the writer, the time, the place, and the occasion, of his writing, and the people for whose immediate use he originally intended his work. Every one of these particulars will sometimes serve to elucidate expres. sions, otherwise obscure or doubtful. This knowledge may, in part, be learnt from a diligent and reiterated perusal of the book itself, and in part,
gathered from what authentic, or at least probable, accounts have been transmitted to us, concerning the compilement of the canon.
3. The third, and only other, general direction I shall mention, is, to consider the principal scope of the book, and the particulars chiefly observable in the method by which the writer has purposed to execute his design. This direction, I acknowledge, can hardly be considered as applicable to the historical books, whose purpose is obvious, and whose method is determined by the order of time, or, at least, by the order in which the several occurrences recorded have presented themselves to the memory of the compiler. But, in the epistolary writings, especially those of the Apostle Paul, this consideration would deserve particular attention.
4. Now, to come to rules of a more special nature : If, in reading a particular book, a word or VOL. I.
phrase occur, which appears obscure, perhaps unintelligible, how ought we to proceed? The first thing undoubtedly we have to do, if satisfied that the reading is genuine, is to consult the context, to attend to the manner wherein the term is introduced, whether in a chain of reasoning, or as belonging to a historical narration, as constituting some circumstance in a description, or included in an exhortation or command. As the conclusion is inferred from the premises; or, as from two or more known truths, a third unknown or unobserved before may fairly be deduced ; so from such attention to the sentences in connection, the import of an expression, in itself obscure or ambiguous, will sometimes, with moral certainty, be discovered. This, however, will not always answer.
§. 5. If it do not let the second consideration be, whether the term or phrase be any of the writer's peculiarities. If so, it comes naturally to be inquired, what is the acceptation in which he employs it in other places? If the sense cannot be precisely the same in the passage under review, perhaps, by an easy and natural metaphor, or other trope, the common acceptation may give rise to one which perfectly suits the passage in question. Recourse to the other places wherein the word or phrase occurs in the same author, is of considerable use, though the term should not be peculiar to him.
$ 6. But thirdly, if there should be nothing in the same writer that can enlighten the place, let re
course be had to the parallel passages, if there be any such, in the other sacred writers. By parallel passages I mean those places, if the difficulty occur in history, wherein the same or a similar story, miracle, or event, is related ; if in teaching or reasoning, those parts wherein the same doctrine or argument is treated, or the same parable propounded; and if in moral lessons, those wherein the same class of duties is recommended. Or, if the difficulty be found in a quotation from the Old Testament, let the parallel passage in the book referred to, both in the original Hebrew, and in the Greek version, be consulted.
\ 7. But, if in these there be found nothing that can throw light on the expression, of which we are in doubt; the fourth recourse is to all the places wherein the word or phrase occurs in the New Testament, and in the Septuagint version of the Old, adding to these the consideration of the import of the Hebrew or Chaldaic word whose place it occupies, and the extent of signification, of which, in different occurrences, such Hebrew or Chaldaic term is susceptible.
$ 8. PERHAPs the term in question is one of those which very rarely occur in the New Testament, or those called 'anat aeyoueva, only once read in Scripture, and not found at all in the translation of the Seventy. Several such words there are. There is then, a necessity, in the fifth place, for recurring to