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If to make proselytes by the sword, is tyranny in rulers, to resign our understanding to any man, and receive, implicitly, what we ought to be rationally convinced of, would be, on our part, the lowest servility. Now, tyranny and servility, how much soever adapted to the genius of worldly domi. nation, are by no means suited to the heavenly character of Christ's kingdom. The only means the Gospel itself permits us to employ, for promoting this spiritual power, is persuasion, which operates upon the unelerstanding, and, by it, upon the will and affections : the great engine of secular dominion is force, which, without regarding the understanding, will, or affections, lays hold of the body. The language of our Lord to his hearers was, If any man WILL come under my guidance ; Ει τις. ΘΕΛΕΙ οπισω u8 #2 Delv. Nothing is obtruded or forced upon the unwilling. Now, as the great source of the infidelity of the Jews, was a notion of the temporal kingdom of the Messiah, we may justly say, that the great source of the corruption of Christians, and of their general defection, foretold by the inspired writers, has been an attempt to render it, in effect, a temporal kingdom, and to support and extend it by earthly means. This is that spirit of Antichrist, which was so early at work, as to be discoverable even in the days of the Apostles.
Every thing, therefore, here, is subjected to the test of Scripture and sound criticism.
I am not very confident of my own reasonings.
I am sensible that, on many points, I have changed my opinion, and found reason to correct what I had judged formerly to be right. The consciousness of former mistakes, proves a guard to preserve me from such a presumptuous confidence in my present judgment, as would preclude my giving a patient hearing to whatever may be urged, from reason or Scripture, in opposition to it. Truth has been, in all my inquiries, and still is, my great aim. To her I am ready to sacrifice every personal consideration; but am determined not, knowingly, to sacrifice her to any thing. To Lucian's advice to the historiographer, Movn duTEOV Tn aandeld, which I have inscribed in the title, it is my intention sacredly to adhere.
DISSERTATION THE FIRST.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE LANGUAGE AND IDIOM OF THE NEW TESTAMENT,
ON THE DIVERSITY OF STYLE, AND ON THE INSPIRATION OF THE SACRED WRITERS.
THE LANGUAGE AND IDIOM.
If the words and phrases employed by the Apostles and Evangelists, in delivering the revelation committed to them by the Holy Spirit, had not been agreeable to the received usage of the people to whom they spoke, the discourses, being unintelligible, could have conveyed no information, and consequently would have been no revelation to the hearers. Our Lord and his Apostles, in publishing the Gospel, first addressed themselves to their countrymen the Jews; a people who had, many ages before, at different periods, been favoured with other revelations. To those ancient Jewish Revelations, now collected into one volume, Christians give the name of the Old Testament; and thereby distinguish them from those apostolical and evangelical writings, which, being also collected into one volume, are called the New Testament. In the latter dispensation, the divine authority of the former is presupposed and founded on. The knowledge of what is contained in that introductory revelation, is always presumed in the readers of the New Testament, which claims to be the consummation of an economy of God for the salvation of man; of which economy the Old Testament acquaints us with the occasion, origin, and early progress. Both are therefore intimately connected. Accordingly, though the two Testaments are written in different languages, the same idiom prevails in both ; and in the historical part at least, nearly the same character
$ 2. As the writings of the Old Testament are of a much earlier date, and contain an account of the rise and first establishment, together with a portion of the history of the nation to whom the Gospel was first promulged, and of whom were all its first missionaries and teachers, it is thence unquestionably that we must learn, both what the principal facts, customs, doctrines, and precepts are, that are alluded to in the apostolical writings, and what is the proper signification and extent of the expressions used. Though the New Testament is written in Greek, an acquaintance with the Greek classics (that is, with the writings of profane authors in that tongue in prose and verse) will not be found so conducive to this end, as an acquaintance with the ancient Hebrew