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printed Greek Teftaments have generally followed. And as there are fuch Omiffions in fome Copies, fo there are alfo fome Additions of whole Periods or Sentences: As Act. vi. 18. at the End of the Verse is added καὶ ἐπορεύθη εἷς ἕκασος εις τα ίδια. Now if our English Translation had been made from one of thefe Copies, you would have seen a Difference as to whole Periods or Sentences between our Tranflation and our common Greek Testaments. And I doubt not but our common Greek Teftaments may be corrected from fome of the various Readings.
There is no Doubt but the Holy Scriptures, as written by the divinely-infpired Penmen, were without the least Mistake or Overfight. Therefore the five Books of Mofes, which were written with his own Hand, and repofited firft in the Tabernacle, and from thence tranfferred to the Temple, were perfectly free from all Error, fo much as in a fingle Letter. The fame we are to believe of the other Books of the Old Teftament, written by the Prophets or infpired Writers. The Originals of which we may also believe were from Time to Time repofited in the fame Place, from whence Copies were taken, for publick Ufe. For we read Deut. xvii. 18. that the King (when they fhould have one) was commanded to write him a Copy of the Law in a Book, out of that which is before the Priests and Levites. And 2 Chron. xvii. 7, 8, 9. Jehoshaphat fent his Princes, and with them be fent L vites, and they taught in Judah, and had the Book of the Law of the Lord with them, and went about throughout all the Cities of Judah, and taught the People. From hence it is manifeft that there were many Copies of the Law, or of the five Books of Mofes. And no Doubt but Copies were taken of the other facred Books from Time to Time as they were written.
But when the Temple was deftroyed, and the whole Nation of the Jews carried into Captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, then all the original Books written by Mofes and the Prophets perished together with the Temple, and only Copies remained. However at their Return from the Captivity, when Cyrus had not only permitted, but gave them Protection and Encouragement to rebuild their City and Temple, God raised up Prophets at the fame Time to encourage them in their Work, and to teach and direct them how to restore the divine Worship according to the Law; which could not be done without having the Books of the Law, that is the Pentateuch, or five Books of Mofes. And, I think, it is not to be fuppofed that they had not alfo Copies of all the other Books of Holy Scripture written before that Time, and to which the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah, who returned with the firft, added their own Books. After this, as we read Ezra vii. 1. 6. Ezra a ready Scribe in the Law of Mofes went up from Babylon, and came to Jerufalem, in the Reign of Artaxerxes King of Perfia, above seventy Years after the Reftoration granted by Cyrus. He, as is confeffed both by Jews and Chriftians, together with the Prophet Malachi and Nehemiah, another inspired Writer, having added their own Books to the former, did, together with the great Synagogue, collect all the infpired Writings, and compleat the Canon of the Old Testament. No Pro
phet being raised up amongst the Jews from the Death of Malachi until the Coming of St. John Baptift.
Ezra then and his Companions of the great Synagogue, Firft, made a Collection and Canon of the facred Books. Secondly, As he and fome others who joined with him were divinely infpired, that is, guided by the Holy Ghost, who preferved them from Error in this great Work, the Copy written by them and lodged in the Temple was perfect and without Miftake. Thirdly, They changed the old Hebrew Letters for those of the Chaldeans, as better known to the Jews, whọ had lived fo long at Babylon : And befides, as they refolved to have no Dealings with the Samaritans, who, as much as they were able, had hindered the rebuilding of Jerufalem and the Temple, they would not write with the fame Letters which the Samaritans made use of, that the Samaritans might not read the Jewish Books, nor the Jews any of the Samaritans. Fourthly, They added fome Connections and Explications. Thus we find in the Pentateuch feveral Things which we may be convinced were not written by Mafes. As Gen. xxxvi. 31. These are the Kings that reigned in the Land of Edom, before there reigned any King over the Children of Ifrael. The Author of this Verfe and of the Catalogue of the Kings of Edom preceding it, muft live at the Time when there were or had been Kings of Ifrael, fince he denotes the Time, when the Ifraelites began to have Kings. Again, it is faid Gen. xiv. 14. That Abraham purfued the Kings he had overcome unto Dan. Now the Name of Dan was not given to this Place until a long Time, not only after Abraham's Days, but also after the Days of Mofes, when 600 Men of the Tribe of Dan took Laish, as we read Judges xviii. 29. Thefe and many other like Paffages have been urged by fome Perfons to prove that Mofes was not the Writer of the Pentateuch, fince even in the biftorical Parts there are feveral Things mentioned which happened not until after his Death. But thefe Things may reafonably be fuppofed to have been put in by Ezra, an infpired Writer, and the great Synagogue, for the better Information of their Contemporaries, when they made this new and compleat Edition of the Canon of all the Holy Scriptures as delivered to the Jews. Which contained thofe, and only thofe, which our Church in her fixth Article holds to be Canonical in the Old Teftament. This Edition of Ezra, an infpired Writer, being written by him, a ready Scribe, and repofited in the Temple, was certainly without Fault or Miftake. And from thence many Copies were foon taken for the Ufe of the Synagogues and private Perfons.
But this Original Book of Holy Scripture written by Ezra, and repofited in the Temple, was deftroyed by that bloody Perfecutor of the Jews (the only Church of God at that Time) Antiochus Epiphanes, who, as we read 1 Maccab. i. 21. 56. entered proualy into the Sanctuary, and took away the golden Altar, and the Candlestick of Light, and all the Veffels thereof. And when they had torn in Pieces the Books of the Law, they burnt them with Fire. But when Judas Maccabeus recovered the City and the Temple, (2 Maccab. x. 1.) and cleanfed and purified the Temple, we cannot doubt but he provided a Book of the Law and the Prophets to be there repofited as before; either one which belonged to
his Father Mattathias, or one very fairly and correctly transcribed from the beft Copies that could be procured: And took good Care also to fupply the Synagogues whofe Books were deftroyed as well as thofe of the Temple. But none of these could be equally free from all Mistakes, as was that of Ezra, an infpired Writer. And these also were for the moft Part deftroyed by the Romans, when the Temple and Synagoguesof Judea were burnt by the Soldiers of Vefpafian and Titus. Whether that particular Book, which to the Time of this final Deftru&tion had been repofited in the Temple, was any where preserved, is un
Jofephus, who was taken Prifoner by the Romans at that Time, and was an Eye-witness of the Defolation and Destruction of his Country, in his Account of his own Life (c. 75.) tells us, that having had Leave given him by Titus, to take whatever he pleafed out of the Ruins of his Country, fays, that he valued nothing fo much, after Liberty for himfelf and Family, as the facred Books which he accepted as a Prefent from Titus. Again, in his feventh Book of the Wars of the Jews, (c. 5.) he makes mention, that the Copy of the Law, which they had taken from the Temple, or out of fome Synagogue, was last in order carried in Triumph at Rome, after the golden Table and Can-dleftick; and that Titus commanded the fame Copy, together with the purple Veils of the most holy Place, to be carefully repofited in the Temple of Peace. The former Paffage gives not the leaft Hint, that Jofephus fought or took out of the Temple the facred Books granted him by the Favour of Titus: And the latter Teftimonies do directly contradict and deny it. Which I think proper to obferve, becaufe fome have afferted that Jofephus obtained from Titus the authentick Copy repofited in the Temple. But I conceive it is evident from FoJephus's own Account of the Matter, that neither he nor any of the Jews had the Happiness to preserve the Copy there repofited.
I have already obferved to you, that in Books copied by writing from others, there will be Miftakes made, unless the Tranfcribers are guided by an infallible Spirit. I muft now alfo obferve that this has alfo actually happened in the Hebrew Bibles, as well as other Books. This has not only been afferted by Ludovicus Capellus, and others, who may be thought not to have that due Refpect which we ought to have for the prefent Hebrew Copies: For even Buxtorf, Arnold Boot, and the Lord Primate Uber, the most zealous Affertors of the Integrity of the prefent Hebrew Text, have acknowledged that Text has not been free from fuch Errors as Tranfcribers are liable to make: And this they have been obliged to, by the various Readings which are found in the feveral Manufcripts of the Hebrew Bible.
Some have indeed gone fo far as to have accufed the Jews of having wilfully altered the Hebrew Text. But this is certainly an unjuft Ac-. cufation. Had they made any fuch Alterations before the Coming of our Lord Jefus Chrift, he and his Apoftles, who fo freely taxed the Scribes and Pharifees with their other Crimes, would not have failed to have taken Notice of one fo heinous as the corrupting the Holy Scriptures, by changing the Text to fupport their falfe Doctrines. But our bleffed Saviour was fo far from laying any fuch Thing to their Charge,
that he plainly intimates the contrary, when, Joh. iii. 39. he directs his Followers to Jearch the Scriptures; which he would not have done in fuch general Words, if they had been falfified, without taking Notice of fuch Falfifications, if there had been any. Alfo Mat. xxiii. 2, 3. he fays, The Scribes and Pharifees fit in Mofes Seat, whatsoever therefore they bid you obferve, that obferve and do. Can any one believe that our bleffed Lord would direct any Perfons to read corrupted or falfified Scriptures, or give his Followers a Charge to hear thofe who had corrupted them ?
There is just Reafon alfo to believe, that the Jews have not wilfully or maliciously altered or corrupted their Scriptures fince the Days of Chrift and his Apoftles; because we ftill find thofe Texts of the Old Teftament, which are cited in the New, in our prefent Hebrew Bibles. If the Jews had been disposed to alter their Scriptures, would they not have changed thofe Texts, that they might have had a Pretence to have accufed Chrift and his Apoftles with Mifquotations and Mifreprefentations of their Scriptures? Again, if the Jews had wilfully corrupted the Scriptures, through Hatred to the Chriftians, as fome fuppose them to have done, they would, no Doubt, have done it in those Prophecies which particularly relate to Chrift, and in fuch Places as relate to the Myfteries of the Chriftian Religion. Yet learned Men have obferved, in fome Places where the Hebrew Books differ from the Greek and Latin, the Hebrew is more oppofite to the Jews, than either the Greek or Latin: As in Pfal. ii. 12. where the Greek and Latin read, Lay hold of Difcipline, left the Lord be angry. The Hebrew has it, Kifs the Son, left he be angry. Which Reading more plainly refers to Chrift, than the other. Who can believe the Jews would wilfully make Alterations in thofe Places, where there is no Controversy between them and us, yet change nothing in thofe Paffages which make fo plainly for us against themselves? Befides, as the Jews are difperfed into fo many diftant Countries, it is morally impoffible they fhould all meet together, and agree to corrupt their Books, or that any fhould do it, without fome general Agreement with the reft, who might, and no Doubt would, complain of fuch Alterations. And as fuch Complaints of one Party of Jews against the other have not been made, we may for thefe Reasons believe the Jews have made no wilful Alterations in the Holy Scriptures fince the Coming of Chrift.
But although the Jews have not wilfully corrupted the Hebrew Text, that is the Letters, yet they have affixed fuch Vowel Points and Paufes to the Letters, as give a Senfe to many Words, very different from the Senfe thofe Words were judged to bear by the LXX, and other ancient Tranflators. About A. D. 500, or later, the Jews of Tiberias, where that People had then their chief School of Learning, taking all the Hebrew Letters as Confonants, invented feveral Points, which they put under every Letter to ferve inftead of Vowels, in order to direct how every Word fhould be pronounced. Some have maintained, that thefe Vowel Points are at least as old as the Time of Ezra, if not of Mofes. But the Generality of the Learned, I think, are of Opinion that they are no older than A. D. 500, if fo old. The Matter has ben controverted pretty much, and the late Dean Prideaux (in his Connection
Connection of the Hiftory of the Old and New Teftament, Part I. Book v. p. 346. Edit. 8°) has given us all the Arguments pro and con upon this Queftion: And declares himself to be of Opinion that the Vowel Points were used, if not in the Time of Ezra, yet very foon after, and long before the Deftruction of the fecond Temple. Yet he confeffes that they are not mentioned by any Author, either Jew or Christian, until fome Hundreds of Years after the Deftruction of Jerufalem. That neither Origen, who gave us the Hebrew Scriptures in one Column written in Hebrew Characters, and in another Column in Greek Characters; nor St. Jerom, who tranflated the whole Bible from the Hebrew, take any Notice of thefe Points. Alfo, that to this Day all the Bibles ufed in the Jewish Synagogues are written without any Points either of Paufe or Lection. Likewife, that he himself, or any other Mafter of the Hebrew Language, would at this Time choose to read in an Hebrew Book that was unpointed. The Reafon which he gives for this Opinion of his, is, that although when a Man is acquainted with a Language, he may read it without Vowels, yet until he has learned the Language, it is impoffible for him to read it fo written. And as the Hebrew was become a dead Language from very near the Return of the Jews from the Babylonifh Captivity, that is from Ezra's Days, and to be learned from Books only, it was impoffible to be learned without the Vowel Points: Confequently thofe Points must have been in Ufe from Ezra's Time, or foon after.
But all this fine Reasoning is overthrown, not only by the Silence of, the Ancients, both Jews and Chriftians, but also by the pofitive Teftimony of St. Jerom, who lived 800 Years after Ezra's Time, and after the Hebrew was become a dead Language, yet was taught that Language by a Jew, without the Affiftance of any Points. For this Father, in his Epiftle to Evagrius concerning Melchifedeck, fays, Non refert utrum Salem an Salim nominetur, cum vocalibus in medio literis perraro utantur Hebræi: Et, pro voluntate lectorum atque varietate Regionum, eadem verba diverfis fenis atque accentibus proferantur. And left you fhould think that by his faying perraro utantur, he may mean that Vowel Points were then fometimes ufed, though but feldom, confequently that this is a Proof of their being used in his Time, and long before, I muft inform you, that he cannot mean Vowel Points in this Place, but real literal Vowels, fuch as all Languages in these western Parts of the World make ufe of: And fuch the Hebrews always had, though most of their Words be written without any of them. These Vowels are,,, y, that is, a fhort, o, ou, or u, i and a long; to which fome add and, that is, e fhort and long. But the Maforites, who invented the Points, make all these Letters to be Confonants; but give them no other Sound than what belongs to the Points placed under them, or, if any, it is no more than an Afpirate. These Letters indeed perraro utantur in medio: But that cannot be faid of Points, which are now affixed to all initial and middle Letters. Befides St. Jerom fays, vocalibus literis, but the Points are not litera, neither are called fo by thofe who have pleaded the moft for them. This pofitive Teftimony of St. Jerom, that the Hebrews feldom placed a Vowel in the Middle of a Word, and that it was indifferent what
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