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much of the latter, which, like Nebuchadnezzar's dream, we have first to find, and then to interpret.
I am not ignorant that Simon's principal aim has been represented by some of his own communion, particularly Bossuet bishop of Meaux, as still more hostile to religion, than from the account above given we should conclude it to be. That celebrated and subtle disputant did not hesitate to maintain that, under the specious pretext of supporting the church, this priest of the Oratory undermined Christianity itself, a proceeding which, in the end, must prove fatal to an authority that has no other foundation to rest upon. The Bishop accordingly insists that the general tendency of his argument, as appears in every part of the work, is to insinuate a refined Socinia. nism, if not an universal scepticism. Certain it is, that the ambiguous manner often adopted by our critical historian, and the address with which he sometimes eludes the expectation of his readers, add not a little probability to the reasoning of this acute antagonist. When to any flagrant misinterpretation of a portion of Scripture mentioned in his work, we expect his answer from a critical examination of the passage, we are silenced with the tradition and au. thority of the church, urged in such a way as evidently suggests, that without recurring to her decision, there is no possibility of refuting the objections of adversaries, or discovering the truth ; and. that our own reasonings, unchecked by her, if they did not subvert our faith altogether, would infalLibly plunge us into all the errors of Socinus. Thus
most of his discussions concerning the import of the sacred text conclude in an alternative which, whilst it conceals his own sentiments, bewilders his readers. The purport is, ' If ye will be rational,
ye must soon cease to be Christians; and if ye will be Christians, ye must (wherever religion is
concerned) cease to be rational. This alternative of faith or reason, though not expressed in so many words, is but too plainly implied in those he uses. If for Christian he had substituted Roman Catholic, or even any one denomination of Christians, the sentiment would not have been so generally controverted. As it is, he offers no other choice, but to believe every thing, how absurd soever, on an authority into the foundation of which we are not permitted to inquire, or to believe nothing at all. The Critical History has accordingly been observed to produce two contrary effects on readers of opposite characters. Of the weak and timid it often makes implicit believers ; of the intelligent and daring it makes free-thinkers. To which side the author himself leaned most, it would perhaps be presumptuous to say. But as his personal character and known abilities were much more congenial to those of the latter class than to those of the former, it was no wonder that he fell under suspicion with some shrewd but zealous Catholics, who look. ed on his zeal for tradition as no better than a disguise. But this only by the way. I mean not to consider here what was his real and ultimate scope in the treatise above mentioned : it is enough for my purpose to examine his professed intention, which is to support tradition by representing Scripture as, in consequence of its obscurity, insufficient evidence of any doctrine.
That Simon's assertions above quoted are without bounds hyperbolical, can scarcely be doubted by any person who reflects. Of the prophetical writings I am not now to speak, though even, with regard to them, it were easy to show that such things could not be affirmed, in an entire consistency with truth. As to the historical books, I hope to prove, notwithstanding all that has been evinced on one side, and admitted on the other, that they are, in general, remarkable for perspicuity. It is true that our knowledge of the tongue, for the reasons above mentioned, is defective; but it is also true, that this defect is seldom so great as materially to darken the history, especially the more early part of it.
3. The first quality for which the sacred history is remarkable is simplicity. The Hebrew is a simple language. Their verbs have not, like Greek and Latin, a variety of moods and tenses, nor do they, like the modern languages, abound in auxiliaries and conjunctions. The consequence is, that in narrative they express by several simple sentences, much in the way of the relations usual in conversation, what in most other languages would be comprehended in one complex sentence of three or four members. Though the latter method has many advantages, in respect of clegance, harmony, and va
riety, and is essential to what is strictly called style ; the former is incomparably more perspicuous. Accordingly we may often observe that unlettered people who are very attentive to a familiar story told in their own homely manner, and perfectly understand it, quickly lose attention to almost any written history, even the most interesting, the history contained in the Scriptures alone excepted. Nor is the sole reason of this exception, because they are more accustomed to that history than to any other, though no doubt this circumstance contributes to the effect; but it is chiefly because the simplicity of the diction brings it to the level of ordinary talk, and consequently does not put the minds of people who are no readers, so much to the stretch, as what is written, · even in the least laboured style of composition, in any modern tongue, does in regard to those acquainted with the tongue.
$ 4. Take for an example of the simplicity here meant, the first paragraph of Genesis, consisting of five not long verses, and containing not fewer than eleven sentences. The common punctuation does not indeed make them so many. When sentences are very short, we usually separate them by semicolons, sometimes by commas; but that is a complete sentence, in whatever way pointed, which conveys a meaning fully enunciated, and intelligible, independently of what precedes or what follows; when what precedes, and what follows, is also intelligible, independently of it. 1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2. And the earth was with. out form and void. 3. And darkness was upon the face of the deep. 4. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 5. And God said, Let there be light. 6. And there was light. 7. And God saw the light, that it was good. 8. And God divided the light from the darkness. 9. And God called the light day. 10. And the darkness he called night. 11. And the evening and the morning were the first day. This is a just representation of the strain of the original. A more perfect example of simplicity of structure we can no where find. The sentences are simple; the substantives are not attended by adjectives, nor the verbs by adverbs, no synonymas, no superlatives, no effort at expressing things in a bold, emphatical, or uncommon manner.
In order to judge of the difference of this manner from that of ordinary compositions, we need only compare with it Castalio's version of the passage into Latin, wherein all, except the first sentence and the last, and consequently nine of those above recited, are comprised in one complicated period. “ 1. · Principio creavit Deus cælum et terram. 2. Quum autem esset terra iners atque rudis, tenebrisque effusum profundum, et divinus spiritus sese super
aquas libraret, jussit Deus ut existeret lux, et ex“ titit lux ; quam quum videret Deus esse bonam, lu. “ cem secrevit a tenebris, et lucem diem, et tenebras “ noctem appellavit. 3. Ita extitit ex vespere et “ mane dies primus.” Compare with this the version of the same passage in the Vulgate, which is literal