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That Luther himself wished a great many more translations besides his own might become current in the Protestant Church. He then notices the principal requisites for any good translation; that as it ought to be made from a correct original text, so it ought to give the sense as complete in every way as possible, and to be as much in the vernacular idiom as the majestic simplicity of the sacred original will admit of; while the greatest care ought to be taken to lose none of its majestic simplicity in our common familiar phraseology. That in such respects a new translation, at least for private use, might be considered as wanting; for as Luther had such an imperfectly revised text to translate from, his version of many passages was not sufficiently elose to the meaning ; besides that many of his expressions had become obsolete. That he (Bengel) had now endeavoured to remedy these defects, and to produce a translation more exactly conformed to the original. To complete which resemblance, he had supplied annotations, which were further intended to edify pious persons in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he had been sparing of remarks exclusively practical, because the Scriptures themselves supply every want of that kind. As the common distribution of the text into chapters and verses had so long and so generally been adopted, and was of use for reference, he could not well omit it; but as it was manifestly faulty in many places, he had endeavoured to rectify it by proper breaks and paragraphs which would easily catch the eye. He had also prefixed to each portion of the New Testament a summary table of its contents. one feel disappointed at not meeting with more edifying matter in this preface, he would observe, that a servant waiting upon guests at a great supper, who duly trims the lamps furnished by the master of the house, that they may burn the brighter, performs a more acceptable service to the guests, than if he kindled any single taper of his own to add to the light. That such was the service he here aimed at: for he had written this preface merely to show the use that may be made of his version
But for those who preferred reading a regular introduction to the New Testament, or to real Christianity, which is the substance of it, he could write nothing better than what Arndt, Spener, Schade, Franke, and others, had written already. That these excellent men, following closely the plain directions of Scripture itself, had shown that it must be perused with prayer, with attention, with sincere longing for salvation, and with
genuine obedience of spirit and conduct; and that it was his own earnest desire and prayer, that those readers who were really seeking edification, might be disposed to study the pure text of the New Testament, with such a preparation of heart as the above writers had recommended.
Very manifold and extensive was the Divine blessing which accompanied this work. As in the year 1769, its second edition was called for; so in 1765, there had been published by an anonymous author, with a preface by Dr. Crusius, “ The History of our Lord Jesus Christ, compiled from the Four Gospels, according to Bengel's Harmony and Version, and enriched with his Annotations." Likewise in the year 1766, there was published at Stuttgart, “A Scriptural Manual of Devotion," by the Rev. W. F. Schaber, M. A., a parochial clergyman. This work consisted of the short ejaculatory petitions, &c. which were interspersed among Bengel's annotations. An edition of Luther's version of the New Testament, with Bengel's annotations, was also published at Tübingen, by Mr. Hartmann, in the year 1767, &c. And even to the present time, Bengel's own version continues to be used in many private devotional circles throughout the kingdom of Würtemberg.
HIS THOUGHTS ON DOCTRINAL AND PRACTICAL SUBJECTS,
SET DOWN APART IN THE COURSE OF HIS EXPOSITORY RESEARCHES.
We learn from his “ Principles of Exegesis,” noticed in our fourth chapter, that conscientiously as he adhered to the confession of the Lutheran church, he thought nothing ought to forbid our continually endeavouring to gain a still purer and more perfect knowledge of revealed truth; that he could not be responsible for the correctness of all and every interpretation put forth in our symbolical books; and that he reserved to himself the rightful liberty of uttering any further truth which he might find disclosed to him in the holy Scriptures. It was by researches conducted under this sense of duty, that he found reason to embrace the doctrine of a scriptural millennium, together with other sentiments theoretical and practical, the chief of which may be seen in the following detached extracts.
“ The Apostles' Creed consists of two parts. The first treats of the Trinity: the second of the Church, and of the divine blessing attached to it.
“ The words Godhead and Divinity, have not precisely the same meaning. Godhead, signifies the divine essence ; Divinity, the glory and dignity belonging to it, and, strictly speaking, to it alone.
“ The word "holy,' properly means separated, or set apart ; and, when applied to God, it denotes his own incommunicable excellence; that brightness of the glory of his essential attributes, which in a manner throws all creature-essence into the shade; and in which he always abides infinitely apart and distinct, not only from whatever is impure, but also from whatever is created. The divine holiness is therefore synonymous with the divine majesty. When the words holiness and glory, which singly are often used in one and the same signification, are coupled together, then the word holiness expresses God's hidden and unsearchable excellence; and the word glory denotes the revelation and display of God's holiness to his rational creatures.
“ There is no reason why we should not suppose an allusion to the Trinity, in that divinely prescribed formulary, “The Lord bless thee and keep thee,' &c. though there is little here except what we may call the predicates, to intimate the distinction between the three Divine Persons and their offices. The more therefore do I value every plainer intimation of this distinction, which is found in Scripture.
« « His glory is in Israel, and his strength in the clouds,' (Ps. lxviii. 34.) What a gloriously rapid transition of thought is here! Let it be observed by, and become familiar to, those, who, on account of the immensity of the creation, feel it difficult to believe, that our own comparatively minute globe can be so dear an object of God's providential care,
“ The word Person, corresponds to the Hebrew CY (Paním,) and to the Greek apóownov. Even the Jews called the Messiah D's (Malách Paním, the Angel of the Presence.) In speaking of the Trinity, we are obliged to use some such expression, to convey our meaning. Defective as it is in some respects, yet, as we have none more suitable, we have no reason to think that God is displeased with our using it. We know in what condescending language he addresses himself to our capacities ; and may therefore believe that he will bear with our weakness, though it fall far short of the true representation of himself. We shall soon know, in the heavenly world, even as also we are known; and then the very Scriptures themselves will appear to have been worded to our comprehension after the manner of a little child's first book.
“ The expression, 'The Son of Man,' always denotes the visible condition of Christ; whether in his humiliation, or exaltation. Thus St. Stephen exclaimed, Behold, I see the Son of Man,' &c., and the Day of Judgment is called the Day of the Son of Man. We also read of speaking a word against the Son of Man.'
“ The notion which our present Herrnhut brethren entertain, that Jehovah, in the Old Testament, means God the Son, the Messiah, is surely contradicted by Heb.i. 1, where God's speaking to us in these last days, by his Son, is contrasted with his having spoken in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.*
* But does not the preceding paragraph from the writings of Bengel help to explain this notion of the Brethren ? For there he had said, that the expression, “The Son of Man,” denotes the visible condition of the Messiah. But was he visible as the Messiah, till he became incarnate ? Now that by Jehovah of the Old Testament, might often be meant the Messiah, appears confirmed by 1 Cor. x. 9.-TR.
“ There is a faith which apprehends the eternal power of the Godhead: and a faith which apprehends the grace of God in Christ. The latter is the faith which saves and makes us happy; the former does not. Yet even the former is something very different from that prevalent vague notion which deifies mere nature. It is also very different from that abstracted and jejune idea of omnipotence, in which deistical infidels settle down with all the positiveness of certainty.
“ It appears to me that the reason why our brethren, who are denominated the “Reformed, stumble so violently at what the Lutherans teach, respecting the omnipresence of Christ's human nature, is, because the former give it such a gross meaning. The Lutheran church quite believes with them, that Christ's human nature has as certainly a distinct locality in the heavenly places’ at present, as it had formerly upon this earth. Brentius is one of those who have spoken the most lucidly upon the subject. See the reply which he wrote soon after Luther's death, to the magistrate of Wesel.
“ Luke xi. 13, If ye then, being evil,' &c., is one of the best proofs of the doctrine of original sin.
“ The greatest number of the Scripture types, prefigure Messiah's priesthood and kingdom. Such types were not for human use alone. God himself did, as it were, 'rest in the gracious purpose, that his Son should come and restore (or make good) all things. Hence, in the very midst of awful predictions of destruction, we abruptly meet with some promise concerning the Messiah. Adam is the most distinguished shadow of Christ; but rather in the manner of contrast than counterpart. Aaron and David may next be mentioned, as Christ's most strikingly typical prefigurations.
“ The manner of prophetic foreshowing in the Old Testament, resembles a landscape picture with its foreground occupied by fields, trees, cattle, busy persons, &c., all distinctly delineated on a large scale; but in its background, you descry long ridges of distant hills, and beyond them chains of mountains all diminutive; so that many objects appear grouped very narrowly together, which in the reality of nature are at a wide distance from one another. By the prophets, in like manner, are things which immediately or soon should come to pass, described clearly and definitely: but those which were seen far distant in futurity, are only adumbrated briefly, and in perspective masses. A foreshortened view may serve to express my meaning.