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they gathered any of their courage from the compassion or the applauses of the multitude, their virtue was so far imperfect, and they then received part of their reward. Let none therefore imagine, that they can give no acceptable evidence of their love to God, but by great and exalted outward efforts; an error, which though probably seldom existing in reality, is sometimes assumed as a cloak for religious indolence. It leads men not, as might be expected, to strive for exalted heights in religion, but to neglect those humbler attainments, which the goodness of God has placed within the reach of the feeblest of his creatures. Let it be remembered, that the most genuine expression of love is that sincere obedience which extends to our minutest actions, which enters with us into the most familiar concerns of life, which pervades and purifies all that we think, or speak, or do; that humble, unreserved obedience, which compounds for no favourite indulgencies, but looks steadily and habitually to that solemn law which declares, that "he who offends in one point is guilty of all."
True love to God will also produce within us an entire resignation to his will, and to all the afflictions which his Providence may send us. This is a part of universal obedience; but it is its hardest lesson; and a lesson too, which love alone will enable us to practice. In the season of prosperity, when every thing is smiling around us, the path of duty is easy and delightful. It is attended with so many pure and animating pleasures, that even did it promise us no future rewards, we might choose it as the surest road to present happiness. But when our pleas ing prospects are obscured, and the sources of these blessings closed upon us, we shall find in love to God our only substantial comfort. It is the value of this affection, that it inspires trust and confidence; that it teaches us to view God as a tender Father, full of the kindest compassion for all his children, and sending them present sorrows only to prepare them for eternal blessedness. Acquaint then thyself with him, thou child of sorrow, and be at peace; for thereby good shall come unto thee. Thy heart, which perhaps had too fondly rested upon the objects of earthly love, will be weaned from the world, and will centre upon God. Thy present afflictions, which are but for a moment, shall work out a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. We should be grateful, that we are permitted and encouraged to cherish such an affection for a Being so great and holy. The world looks with envy on the man, who is admitted to the friendship of the great and powerful, and foolishly imagines, that he has obtained a security against almost every eyil. Others with far more reason have desired to mingle with the sages and philoso
phers of their race, hoping to learn of their wisdom, and to catch something of their spirit. Yet in courting the friendship of those, whose rank, wisdom, or talents have raised them a little above the level of their fellow worms, our pride is often humbled; for though weak and imperfect like ourselves, they seldom fail to remind us, that our attainments are inferiour to theirs. But the humblest of us are invited to become the friends of God. In his adorable condescension he bends to proffer us his favour and love. He loads us with his benefits; he crowns our lives with his mercies, and all the return he demands, is that of grateful and obedient lives. Nay, even for this, which surely is but his most righteous debt, he promises us the richest blessings of his grace. He declares, that he will keep them in perfect peace whose minds are fixed on Him; he assures them, that all things shall work together for their good, and promises them joys in heaven, which eye hath not seen, which ear hath never heard, and which it hath never entered into the heart of man to conceive.
ON JEREMIAH xvii. 9.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTJAN DISCIPLE.
Ir has long appeared to me matter of just surprise, that so little notice has been taken of an obvious mistranslation of the celebrated text, Jeremiah xvii. 9. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it. The orthodox have been allowed to hold quiet possession of this text; or, at least, to derive from it all the support to their system, which our common version appears to lend. It seems to have been admitted without investigation, that the meaning of the original has been fairly given; and the common reply to the Calvinistic use which has been made of the declaration, The heart is desperately wicked, has been, that the words will admit a more liberal interpretation, and that, far from favouring the doctrine of original and total depravity, they merely imply, what we all believe, that the human heart is liable, through its native weakness and the influence of temptation, to become exceedingly corrupt and wicked, even to such an extent as to be past all hope of reformation.
I admit that this reply is perfectly satisfactory: but a reference to the original passage will, I imagine, satisfy any candid person,
that our translators had very little authority, none that I can perceive for introducing into their version the terms, desperately wicked. The Hebrew term, thus rendered, is wx, which, according to Buxtorf, signifies, mortiferus, aegerrimus, that is, mortal, grievously sick; or if we disregard the authority of the Masorites, the same term is equivalent to homo, man.
The opinion of Archbishop Secker, it will be admitted, is justly entitled to great weight. His marginal note on this pas sage is as follows: "The term rendered, desperately wicked, signifies man, or sick, and perhaps incurable, or desperate, but, I believe, never desperately wicked. Perhaps, to be despaired of." In Blaney's version, the verse reads thus: "The heart is wily above all things; it is even past all hope; who can know it?" That is, as it is explained in a note, "humanly speaking, there is no chance that any one should trace it through all its windings, and discover what is at the bottom of it." A bare inspection of the context will evince the propriety of this rendering. The heart is deceitful or wily above all things, and incurably so, or to such an extent as to elude the keenest penetration; and then the inquiry is very naturally proposed, "who can know it?" that is, in consequence of its deceitfulness, as is very obvious, and not of its being desperately wicked. The following verse still further confirms this interpretation. "I, the Lord, search the heart; I try the reins." That is, as I understand it, however we may elude human penetration, and successfully practice upon ourselves or others the arts of deception, we cannot deceive God. He can penetrate to the inmost recesses of the heart, and can trace every thought and purpose to the secret springs which gave them birth.
I do, therefore, confidently hope, that the passage in question will no longer be appealed to as a proof text of the doctrine of total depravity, with which it appears to have no connexion whatever; and that it will be suffered quietly to answer the purpose for which it appears to have been originally written; to teach us the practical lesson, that, however secret may be the machinations of the wicked, and however successfully they may practice upon their fellow mortals the arts of hypocrisy and deception; yet there is a Being, who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins of the children of men, and who will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.*
*The opinion expressed above is countenanced by many authorities, of which I have had opportunity to consult but few. The LXX translate Βαθεια ἡ καρδια παρα παντα, και ανθρωπος εστί, και τις γνώσεται αυτόν; that is,
A WRITER'S CHARACTER AS AFFECTING HIS WORKS.
FOR THE CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE.
"I WOULD not read in the pulpit a hymn of M.'s composing, however unexceptionable it might be in itself,-such is my opi nion of the man." The feeling, discovered by the worthy clergyman who expressed himself in this manner, is not uncommon towards writings which are unsupported by the principles or character of the author. The sins of the parent are visited upon his literary offspring. An innocent, and perhaps valuable production is condemned to neglect, because the writer is not respected.
Though at first view this verdict may not seem to be quite philosophical, (and the clergyman I have quoted, seemed to think his was wrong), yet I think it is far from being indefensible, and in some cases, and under certain circumstances, is evidently a correct and proper one.
It is true that literary, no less than civil justice, ought to be blind to every consideration but the merits of the case; that the province of criticism is to examine writings, not men; and that, therefore, in trying any production, it has no more right to inquire concerning the author's character, than concerning his rank, station, profession, country or colour.
It is true that, by yielding to our aversions and predilections, there is danger that our judgment may be impaired and perverted; that we may reprobate works which might be useful to us, and even doctrines and opinions which are sound and important, on account of their association with a hated name; that we may read the objectionable parts of a favourite author with less disapprobation than they deserve; and that our very principles and feelings may thus be insensibly corrupted. "What Cato did, and Addison approved," said Budgel when about to commit suicide, "cannot be wrong. "* In this manner, the indulgence of our prepossessions may lead to the grossest violations of that law of criticism and good sense, which requires us to judge of writings, of doctrines and opinions, according to their intrinsic na
הלב מכל ואנש הוא מי ידענו .almost word for word
The heart is deep, or unsearchable, above all things, so also is man, and who can know him? This, as it will be perceived, is the original rendered In the com-. mentary of Drusius is translated vir, man; "Inscrutabile cor omniam; vir autem quis est qui inveniat illud?"—what man is there who can know it?
*"This charge against Addison," says a respectable writer, "is wholly groundless." No doubt it is; but whether true or false, it serves to exemplify my meaning.
A Writer's Character as affecting his works.
ture; and such violations may become the means of our moral depravation. \
It is true, also, that the pronenesss of mankind to submit to a sort of foreign influence in literary affairs,-to be determined in their judgment of writings by extraneous considerations,-has been productive of much illiberality, of much injustice, and evil in the world. "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth," is the constant inquiry of lettered, no less than of religious bigotry. To belong to a particular country, place, profession, or condition; to be engaged in certain occupations and pursuits; to have been educated at a seminary, where perhaps the inspiration of learned pomp and frippery is unfelt; to be "guilty of a skin not coloured" according to the orthodoxy of northern fancies; to be, from accident, honesty, or spirit, little favoured by patronage or fortune; or even to be called by a name, which happens to be spelled with a vowel or consonant too much or too little; is with many, in its effect on a man's works, the same thing as to want learning, talents, genius, or good sense. On the other hand, an important station in society, a lucky celebrity, or a splendid fortune, is a sure passport to public favour for writings which are not chargeable with deficiency of merit; and not unfrequently procures applause for such as are deserving of censure and contempt, for the miserable effusions of party rancour, and conceited ignorance, of bad temper, bad principles, and bad taste.
Many a valuable work, has, I doubt not, been condemned to oblivion by an unfortunate association; and many a worthless scribble, many a pernicious and absurd doctrine and opinion, have been saved from sinking by the buoyancy of a name. There have been instances, where a name has been, in the moral world, the lever of Archimedes. It has wielded the minds of men with an astonishing and almost supernatural agency. It has given them eyes to see, as realities, the strangest fabrications of sophistry, or of a disordered imagination. It has maintained false systems of philosophy and theology; corrupted literature, morality and religion; consecrated innumerable prejudices; and formed one of the chief obstacles to human improvement. How many erroneous, absurd and injurious notions prevail, not only in pagan and popish countries, but in countries the most free and enlightened;-notions, which have nothing to support their usurpation of the place of truth, but authority; and which, were reason allowed its full and just operation, would disappear like mists before the sun!
All this will be readily admitted. It cannot be denied, that we ought to judge of the productions of human intellect by New Series-vol. III.