Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

the Epistle on which he discourses, retaining as much of the common version as he consistently could. His rendering, we are persuaded, will generally be approved of, though possibly in a few passages the sense might have been a little differently, or more fully brought out. The last clause, chap. ii. ver. 24, rendered in our common version, ‘By whose stripes we were healed,' is rendered by Dr. Brown, ‘By whose weals you are healed,' and he subjoins the following as a foot note : Módoy non est vulnus sed vibex, sive vestigium verberum aut flagellorum :

Anyn páotiyos Trolei półwmas. Ecclus. xxviii. 17. Raphelius. The Greek word used by the apostle, in our common version rendered 'stripes,' no doubt signifies the traces or marks of a scourge or lash; but it does not seem necessary to exclude the wounding or laceration of the skin, frequently made by the stroke of the lash. In the passage Isaiah liji. 5, from which the apostle makes the quotation, the Hebrew term is 7230, which certainly has a more extensive meaning than that assigned to the corresponding Greek word wód wy by Raphelius. We find it used in many passages of the Old Testament, e.g., Psalm xxxviji. 6., and Proverbs xx. 30., in both of which it seems to signify a wound or sore in a suppurating or putrescent state. It is used also in Isaiah i. 6., where Aben Esra expressly gives it the sense we have mentioned. We are therefore inclined to think that either of the common words 'sores' or 'wounds,' would have expressed the meaning of the original term with sufficient exactness. That our Lord suffered from the scourge there is no doubt; but he must have suffered a great deal more from the cruel wounds inflicted on his body, when he was affixed to the cross. Besides, the word employed in the passage under discussion, whatever it may be, must be antithetical to the word 'healed,' and the more strictly so, the better. In this point of view, such a word as 'wounds' seems to have a claim to preference. It would be difficult, indeed, to find another word in our language, that expresses so correctly, as 'weals,' what Dr. Brown conceives to be the meaning of the originai; but even putting out of view our opinion that the word válwy has here a more extensive signification, we should object to the term 'weals,' on the ground of its comparative confinement to dictionaries. Were any one to ask twenty persons, indifferently selected, what the word 'weals' meant, it is very probable that nineteen of them would be unable to give the correct answer. In this instance then, but it is the only one, Dr. Brown is almost as much in fault as a very learned man and excellent translator was, who, in rendering into English the account of the miracle of the loaves, ( Matthew xvi. 9.) wrote, and how many maunds ye filled.' He added, however, a note explaining that 'a maund means a hand basket. In one or two instances, Dr. Brown uses in the translation, words of Latin and French origin, when Saxon terms might have been advantageously employed.

In our version, chap. ii. 4., the first clause is rendered, 'To whom coming, as unto a living stone;' this clause is rendered by our author, Coming to whom, the living stone. If the Greek word nidov had had the article prefixed to it, this translation might have been admitted ; but as it is anarthous, we cannot help thinking the indefinite article, as in our common version, preferable. Our translators were warranted also, we think, in supplying the particle'as.' In the excellent book of Lambert Bos, on the Greek ellipses, among the instances given in which the particle ós must be supplied, this clause is particularly specified. There is likewise in a subsequent part of the epistle, a passage (chap. iii. 20.) where, if it would not be thought an unwarrantable liberty, the supplying of the same particle would tend not a little to the simplifying of the sense. The words to which we refer are these: .Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah,' etc. It is almost needless to say that the whole passage relating to the spirits in prison,' is an exceedingly difficult one; it has, all along, perplexed even learned and well intentioned expositors; and by an ignorant and wicked priesthood it has been employed as a ground work for the grossest, but to them the most lucrative, superstition. In the exposition of this passage, Dr. Brown may be said to agree, in the main, with the view now generally taken by competently qualified protestant commentators. The consequences of our Lord's penal, vicarious, and expiatory sufferings, he thinks, naturally divide themselves into two classes: first, such as took place not in heaven, ennumerated in the words, 'He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit; he by it went and preached to the spirits in prison, which sometime were disobedient;' secondly, such as took place in heaven: 'Having risen from the dead, he went into heaven, and is on the right hand of God, angels, and authorities, and powers being made subject unto him. On the first class of these consequences, or rather on the clauses in which they are mentioned, we beg leave to make a few remarks, premising our cordial approbation of the exposition before us, and merely suggesting as matter for consideration, a few slight alterations which, we think, might improve it.

It is a sound general principle, that no interpretation of any piece of writing can be the right one, unless it correspond with the grammatical structure of the language, and with the obvious design of the writer; and we have observed with pleasure, that a constant attention to this principle is maintained through

out the work before us. By the words 'was put to death,' we are told, the idea intended to be conveyed is not so much the violent nature of the infliction, as its effect—the entire privation of life, and consequently of power. The verb Javarow seems to be used as in Rom. vii. 4, ‘Ye are become dead.' Jesus became dead in the flesh, bodily dead, he lay in the sepulchre an inanimate, powerless corpse. He was quickened in the spirit,' not by the spirit, the form of expression being the same as the preceding. He was put to death in the flesh, quickened in the spirit—that is spiritually quickened-made alive and powerful, in a sense and to a degree in which he was not previously, and, but for his sufferings, could not have become,-full of life to be communicated to dead souls-mighty to save. That this is the meaning of the phrase, is proved by the circumstances of the apostle's afterwards expressly mentioning our Lord's resurrection from the dead. In virtue of this spiritual quickening, or, 'wherefore,' being thus spiritually quickened, he went and preached to the spirits in prison, which sometime were disobedient. We have here, in Dr. Brown's work, two notes which deserve to be quoted; the one is in explanation of the expression, by which,' or 'wherefore,' ' 'Ev R. ToûTO EN Qı ápri Toù AIO Keitai aitioloyik@s.' Oecumenius. The other is in illustration of the word rendered, he went: Nopeudeis, postquam in coelum ascendit, ut mor, Com. 12.-S. Joannis. Evang. xiv. 2, 3, 12, 28., xvi. 7, 28. Dicitur Christus praedicasse gentibus, quia apostoli id ejus nomine et virtute fecerunt, 2 Cor. v. 20. Acta Apost.xiii. 47. Rom. xv. 16. Gal. ii. 8. Eph. ii. 17. Grotius.

By the 'spirits in prison,' we are not to understand either the souls who perished in the general deluge, confined in Hades, and in a state of suffering till the judgment of the great day; or human spirits confined in bodies, like so many prisons, as a punishment for sins committed in some previous state of being. The first is a doctrine which has no warrant from scripture, except what has been derived from the misunderstanding of this passage. The second is a heathenish notion, to which, also scripture rightly understood, gives no sanction. They are, as our author, and we think, rightly, interprets the phrase, men righteously condemned, the slaves and captives of Satan, shackled with the fetters of sin ; they are the captives to whom Messiah, anointed by the spirit of the Lord,' that is, just in other words 'quickened in the spirit,' was to proclaim liberty, the bound ones to whom he was to announce the opening of the prison. In this was fulfilled an ancient prophecy, 'I, the Lord, have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thy hand, and will keep thee, and will give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light to the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes ; to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.' But then the spirits in prison, to whom our Lord is represented as going and preaching, were the unbelieving generation who lived before the flood, who aforetime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah.' There does not appear to Dr. Brown, any formidable difficulty in this clause. The phrase, he says, is characteristic of men in all ages. Jesus Christ came and preached to spiritually captive men, who were hard to be convinced in former times, especially in the days of Noah. The Son of God had by his spirit, through the instrumentality of the prophets, preached to spiritually imprisoned men in all ages; and Dr. Brown, concurring in the opinion of Archbishop Leighton, thinks that the preaching of Noah is referred to, in particular, to show the greater efficacy of our Lord's preaching through the medium of his apostles. Though Noah was a signal preacher of righteousness, yet his preaching issued only in the saving of himself, and his family, eight persons; whereas multitudes of all nations are saved by the spirit and preaching of Christ in his gospel.

The difficulty connected with this last clause, does not, we must confess, seem to us removed by this mode of expounding it. There still appears a certain degree of haziness hanging about it; which, unless our optics are in fault, prevents us from seeing the sense of it so distinctly as we could wish. This arises not improbably from the exceedingly indefinite reference assigned to the adverb rendered 'sometime,' and understood as nearly equivalent to 'ever, or at all times. Now it may not unnaturally be supposed that the apostle had before his mind, when he wrote this passage, a particular period of time, and a

particular group of spirits in prison,' belonging to the generation of men who lived at that period. The period of disobedience referred to, is, we are persuaded, that of our Lord's personal ministry, and the spirits in prison,' in that case, must be his countrymen, the Jews, to whom our Lord offered himself as the Messiah, but who, disobedient 'to God, and to him, the sent of God,' impiously rejected his claim. The grammatical connection of the next clause may be made out in the same manner as that of another (Chap. ii. 4.) already adverted to, that is, by supplying ás, as a particle indicating comparison, or likeness. It may be allowable to remark here, that the ellipsis of this particle was a practice common with Greek writers, both in poetry and prose. We are told, for instance, by one of the scholiasts on Homer, that Zoilus, a proverbially ill-natured critic, fastening upon a verse (Iliad E. v. 4) where the supplying of the particle is necessary, and affecting to understand it, as containing, without the help of the supplement, the meaning of the author, on that ground endeavoured to expose the poet to ridicule. According to the scholiast, it must have been a simple case : 'Tapeidnpoai tò 28 katà ouvýbelav tộ trointi: âs kai év étépois.' Instances of the same or similar ellipses might be adduced from the Septuagint, as well as from the New Testament writers; but it may suffice to compare the following passages in the epistle of James, Chap. i. 11; ii. 19; iii. 6; iv. 14; v. 8, in all of which an adverb intimating likeness or comparison may be safely supplied. The apostles Peter and James have, both in sentiment and style, a closer resemblance to each other, than is, perhaps, to be found in any other two writers in the New Testament. We have reason, therefore, to expect in both the same peculiarities. Assuming that the apostle Peter had in his eye, in the first instance, the personal ministry of our Lord, that of Noah could scarcely fail to be suggested. Noah was sent to convince his contemporaries of their aggravated impiety, to warn them of the impending judgment of heaven, to exhort them to repentance, and to set before them the means of safety. In these respects the objects of his and of our Lord's mission had a striking resemblance. In their results too they were similar. Only Noah himself and his family were preserved : the unbelieving race of mankind perished by the deluge. In like manner the preaching of our Lord was set at nought by the Jewish nation : a few only, who might, not inaptly, be compared to the eight souls saved by water,' listened to his voice, and obeyed it. Jerusalem, we believe, was still standing, not yet besieged or shut up, when the apostle wrote this epistle; but he knew that 'as the days of Noe were, even so should the coming of the Son of Man be. The signs of His coming were already visible: the sun was darkened, and the powers of heaven were shaken: the rebellious race was about to perish in a cataclysm of blood; about to meet in judgment, Him whom they had by wicked hands crucified and slain.'

To the exposition of the epistle there are appended six sermons, and a lecture delivered last year to the students attending the theological seminary of the United Presbyterian Church. These discourses are in every way worthy of the author; but want of space prevents our entering on an analysis of their contents. We shall conclude with a few general remarks.

The work we have been examining leads us to think very highly of the author's qualifications as an expositor of scripture. The interpretation of the sacred writings, considered as a department of science, is, in one sense, of very high antiquity, in another, of but late origin. Before the destruction of the Jewish polity, the doctors of the law had succeeded in substituting their own

« НазадПродовжити »