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• to bring out of his treasure things new and old,' the more he studies bis Bible the better. This is the only legitimate source of all true theology; and in this sacred volume lie hidden numberless glories, which no translation can ever unfold. I grant that these are not essential to salvation. I bless God that they are not; for how then could the great mass of people be saved? But may not the contem. plation of them help to cultivate a finer taste, and a higher relish in a Christian minister for the sacred word ? Will it not lead him to pore over its pages with a keener relish than the most enthusiastic admirers of Greek or Roman poetry have ever entertained for the works of Homer or Virgil ? I hesitate not to answer in the affirmative. And if his heart is in any good measure as it ought to be, humble, filial,
panting after God,' by the contemplation of these divine beauties he will be transformed from glory to glory’as by the Spirit of the living God.”—Note E, p. 74; Study of the Original Language of the Bible.
But, perhaps, in reference to that church at lai with which this literary institution is connected, we may draw another general consideration for the study of the Hebrew from the fact that she is extend. ing her missionary efforts : and that doubtless tribes and nations will be included, (as indeed is the case now on a small scale,) who have not the Bible in their own tongue. In this case the missionary ought to be prepared to give it to the people to whom he is sent fresh from the fountain of inspiration itself.
The importance of the Hebrew, in its connection with the mis. sionary work, will be best seen from the following extract from the “ inaugural address of Professor B. B. Edwards, delivered in the chapel of the Theological Seminary, Andover, January 18, 1838. He thus speaks on this most interesting subject :
“ The one hundred and twenty-two ordained missionaries sent out by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, sixty. nine of whom were educated at this institution, have published, with the aid of their assistants, between fifty and sixty millions of pages, a large proportion of which are parts of the Scriptures. The number of languages employed is twenty-nine, nine of which were first reduced to writing by these missionaries. In all this wide department of labor, augmenting every year, an accurate acquaintance with the original Hebrew is, of course, indispensable. The missionary translator is not to repair to the Vulgate, nor to the Septuagint, but to the fountain-head.
“In the labors which are to be entered into for the conversion of the five or six millions of Jews scattered over the world, the necessity of the Hebrew Bible is too obvious to need the briefest allusion. In respect to familiarity with its pages, the missionary himself must be. come a Jew.
The bearings of the subject upon those who speak the Arabic tongue may justify a moment's consideration. The great problem for the friends of civilization and Christianity to solve is, the conversion of the millions who use the Chinese and the Arabic languages. These enlightened and saved, the world, comparatively, is evangelized. Henry Martyn, in speaking of the Arabic translation of the Bible, says, ' It will be of more importance than one fourth of all that have ever been made. We can begin to preach to Arabia, Syria, Persia, Tartary, part of India and China, half of Africa, and nearly all the seacoasts of the Mediterranean, including Turkey.' According to the tables in the modern Atlas, this would give upward of two hundred millions who would be reached through the Arabic language. This calculation may perhaps appear extravagant; yet, if we look at the extent of the language, with all its different dialects, the number who use it will fall not far short of one fourth of the population of the globe. Any thing, therefore, which will materially aid us in the acquisition of the Arabic, has a value which words cannot express.
“What, then, are the relations between the Hebrew and the Arabic ? Most intimate and fundamental. The Arabs have a common ancestry with the Jews, partly from Abraham through Ishmael, and partly from Heber through his son Joktan. Some of the Arab tribes most clearly spoke the same language with the Israelites, while Moses was leading the latter through the wilderness. At what time there was a diverg. ence we are not informed. But in numerous and in important points the two languages yet remain identical.
“ The affinity of languages is sought by one class of philologists in their words ; in their grammar, by another class. According to the former, words are the matter of languaye, and grammar its form or fashioning; according to the latter, grammar is an essential, inborn element of a language, so that a new grammar cannot be separately imposed upon a people. But whichever of these methods is adopted, in order to determine the affinity of two languages, the result in the case before us is the same. The Hebrew and Arabic are kindred both in words and in grammar, both lexically and grammatically. In an Arabic translation of the Pentateuch, about one half of the words are Hebrew, with the same radical letters. One writer enumerates more than three hundred names of the most common objects in nature which are the same in both, without by any means exhausting the list. The roots in both languages are generally dissyllabic, lying in the verb rather than the noun. The two languages abound in guttural sounds. The oblique cases of pronouns are appended to the verb, the noun, and to particles. The verb has but two tenses. The gender is only twofold. The cases are designated by means of prepositions. The geni. tive is expressed by a change in the first noun, not in the second. The noun and verb do not admit of being compounded. There is a certain simplicity in the syntax, and the diction is in the highest degree un. periodic. In the Hebrew Lexicon, which we here daily use, almost every Hebrew root has a corresponding Arabic one, with the same radicals, and generally with the same signification.
“In promoting, therefore, the study of Hebrew in this country, we are taking a most direct means to spread the glorious gospel of Christ, not only where the Arabic is the dominant language, but wherever Islamism has penetrated—that is, from Calcutta to Constan. tinople, and from the Caspian sea to our American colony in Liberia. A thorough knowledge of Hebrew will remove at least one half the difficulty of acquiring the Arabic. It will introduce us to the same modes of writing and of thought, to the same poetic diction, and in part to the same material objects, the same countries, and the same historical associations. In this sense the Hebrew is not a dead lan. guage. By its most intimate connection with the Arabic, and, I may add, with the Syriac, it is still spoken at the foot of Mount Ararat, on the site of old Nineveh, at Carthage, in the ancient Berytus, and where Paul was shipwrecked. It is reviving in Egypt, and the Bible and the tract societies are spreading its literature on the wings of every wind.”
In the above extract allusion is made to the conversion of the Jews, and the importance of a knowledge of the Hebrew in the labors that are yet to be expended upon them. Adapting our remarks to our own church, may we not say, Shall we not seek to have something to do in the conversion of that remarkable people, of whom the Apostle Paul said, directly alluding to their conversion to Christianity," If the cast. ing away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead ?" Rom. xi, 15. If blind. ness has happened but in part to Israel ; if with the fulness of the Gentiles all Israel is to be saved; if the Deliverer out of Zion is to turn away ungodliness from Jacob; if, as touching the election, the Jews, as a people, are beloved for the fathers' sakes, Rom. xi, 25, 26, 28, shall we not do what in us lies to promote this result? With this object by itself in view, the knowledge of the Hebrew rises in inte. rest and importance. With this object in view, as Professor Edwards has observed, “ the necessity of the Hebrew Bible is too obvious to need the briefest comment. In respect to familiarity with its pages, the missionary himself must become a Jew.”
In closing this address, which might easily have been extended to a much greater length, permit me, though with great diffidence, to urge upon those who intend to enter the ministry, and to devote themselves to the great work of making known among men “the unsearchable riches” of the gospel, to avail themselves of the first favorable oppor. tunity to obtain a knowledge of the Hebrew. If this cannot be accomplished now; if even a small beginning cannot be made, by a short period of additional effort, let it be borne in mind, and, as soon as it is within your power, acquire this sacred language. This has been effected by your fellow-laborers in the same vineyard who have preceded you, under the most disadvantageous circumstances. With what indefatigable ardor and diligence did that holy man John Walsh apply himself to the study of this language! Look at Dr. Adam Clarke. The elements of his knowledge of the Hebrew and cognate tongues were acquired in the earlier part of his ministry, when con. tending with numerous privations, and most diligently and successfully employed on his circuit. There is now in the library of this university a Hebrew grammar, once the property of the ever to be lamented Sum. merfield, with notes on the accents, in his, to me, well-known hand, written amid his unrivalled popularity-amid bis incessant ministerial labors—amid innumerable pastoral calls—with a frame greatly enfeebled by disease—with a mind constantly taxed beyond its strength, every additional effort of which only'tended the sooner to obscure this brilliant light; yet, amid all this labor and waste of constitution, this exemplary minister of Jesus Christ found time to study the original language in which the holy Scriptures were written.
May such examples have their influence in stimulating the zeal of those in this institution who expect to labor in the ministry, if not now, at least at some future period, to acquire the knowledge, not only of the Hebrew, but of the cognate tongues; together with that critical knowledge of the Bible which is to be obtained by a careful comparison of those various earlier versions of the Scripture, which are considered more essentially important for the correct interpretation of the sacred text.
Glorious, brethren, is the career that is before you, if God has in. deed “counted you faithful, putting you into the ministry.” While therefore you seek for the holy ardor of a Walsh-while, with him, and numerous other illustrious examples, you are “in labors more abund. ant"-overlook no auxiliary advantages within your reach. Improve them all assiduously, with a single eye; and wherever you are sent to labor, you will be able to say, with St. Paul, “ And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.”
Middletown, Nov. 7, 1838.
For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.
SKETCHES OF SOUTH AMERICA.
BY REV. J. DEMPSTER, A. M., MISSIONARY AT BUENOS AYRES.
[Continued from page 370 of Vol. IX.]
PART II. OF NO. II.
The religion of a vast majority of American Indians, like that of most ancient nations, was grossly superstitious, and stupidly idolatrous. The gloomy worship of the new world was reduced to most system in the three extensive and ancient empires of Peru, Mexico, and Bo. gata. Though, south of 20 degrees north latitude, there were no fewer than sixteen hundred tribes, the religions of these benighted millions were far from being equally numerous. Those of these three imperial states were made the powerful instrument of government, and the un. shaken pillar of the throne. The Mexicans, who in civilization were more advanced than any of the other American nations, were never. theless the most barbarous in their religious rites. The savage tribes of Peru sacrificed their children to the sun from time immemorial, during many ages preceding the reign of the Incas; but they were restrained from this diabolical practice by that powerful dynasty. But the horrible custom of appeasing divine wrath by human victims con. tinued in Mexico up to the very moment that monarchy sunk beneath the power of Spanish arms. Though this horrific practice of offering human sacrifices obtained among the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Carthagenians, Gauls, and indeed, at some period, among every an. cient nation, we are not aware that, exclusive of Mexico, history records another instance of human victims becoming the food of the worshippers. The Greeks ate several parts of the human body for medicine—and all ages have been disgraced by cannibalism, in the midst of some of the most degraded clans of barbarous men; but the Mexicans appear to stand alone in the horrible practice of eating the flesh of men which they had offered in sacrifice to their gods. Of all the shocking features in the most bloody idolatry, this, with its concomitants, is the most revolting. To this fate, however, all prisoners at Mexico were liable. But, if they were barbarous to their prisoners, they were also cruel to themselves.
It is true that the priests of Mexico did not exceed many other pagan priests in their voluntary inflictions—those of Japan, for ex. ample, who tore their flesh from their legs and arms with their own teeth, and surpassing the most ferocious animals, their bloody superstition has placed them beyond all comparison to any thing known within the compass of human observation. Nor can we without injus. tice to the Mexicans conceal the fact, that those unblushing obscenities, and childish puerilities, ascribed to the objects of their worship by the Greeks, Romans, and other ancient nations, were never to so great an extent attributed by the Mexicans to the gods they adored. The perfections of their deities were of an awfully stern and bloody character. Their supreme god they enrobed with higher attributes than paganism had ascribed to the Jupiter of the old world. Him they represented by no external form, as they believed him to be invisible, and invested with perfections too exalted to be symbolized by any objects of sense. They expressed the eminence of his perfections by the strongest terms of their most expressive language." In him, (said they,) all that live have being; he is the circumference of all things, and the fountain of every perfection.” They called him Teoll; a name which several able writers have derived from Theos, the Greek name of the Supreme Being; and doubtless the names are less similar in their sound than in the ideas they convey. But those just and sublime views enter. tained by the Mexicans of their supreme deity were totally lost in the derotions they rendered to the unnumbered gods which their supersti. tion had created. Of these, there were thirteen whom they deemed very great; and the numberless multitude of the others were adorable, though of far less dignity. Their divinities not only shone in the sun and moon, and glowed in every star of heaven, but they peopled the mountains and valleys, the hamlets and cities, the rivers and lakes, and the fields and groves. Like the idolators of the old continent, they worshiped beings of both sexes, but they never ascribed to them those unheard-of atrocities which Greece and Rome imputed to their highest divinities. Some of the tribes of Mexico believed that the dreary receptacle of departed offenders was located in the centre of the globe-that there, in an abode of untold torments, the wicked would agonize with the corrupt companions of their mortal pilgrimage. But the Otomies and a few other barbarous clans held death to be the annihilation of all who sunk under its dominion; while the Mexicans attributed immortality to both men and beasts, believing that the brutal, no less than the human spirit, soared above the stroke of disso. lution, and in some mode survived for ever.
Those who fell in the field of battle, or in a state of captivity, or in giving birth to a child, towered above all earthly scenes, and were borne to the house of the sun. Here, with this prince of glory, they passed a long period of exquisite delight. They hailed every day with rejoicing at the first appearance of the sun's rays, and accompanied him, with the most thrilling music of harps and voices, to his meridian point; and there meeting with the blissful souls of departed women, they attended him together, with festivity, amid the ravishments of the sweetest song, to his place of setting. Vol. X.--April, 1839.