Page images

when they found not his body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels which said that he was alive." Mr. Harrison maintains that "might have" should be "may have”; and that “was” should be "is"; and this in accordance with one of his favorite “principles," on which he very frequently takes occasion to insist. He says that might refers to the past, and may to the present or future. Whereas the use of might for the present or future is almost as familiar as any use it has; as, "he might at any time if he would," "oh that I might know the truth!" etc. Besides, in both cases and others like them, he forgets the formal effect of the tense of the preceding verb; thus, "are written that we may have hope," "were written that we might have hope." Such, we contend, is the natural English unencumbered by any à priori "principles." And as for the phrase, "said that he was alive," any English (or at least any American) ear will instantly detect how unnatural it is to say, "which said that he is alive." Indeed, Mr. H. hardly dares suggest this reading, but would alter the whole construction and read, "saying, he is alive.” This, he alleges, is in strict accordance with the Latin and Greek, eum vivere, avròv Syv — and so it might be if there were no difference between the oratio recta and the oratio obliqua; although, in fact, the Greek text happens to read oi hérovow avròv Syr, “ which say that he is alive." This last, however, is a point to which Mr. H. does not allude, and which would serve no purpose in illustration of his favorite "principle."

But he objects to the also in the latter passage, discoursing in this wise:

"We cannot connect an entity with a nonentity. The sentence amounts to this: they did not do a certain thing, and they did something besides. If we strike out also, the passage is clear and consistent. Both the Greek and Latin of this passage, however, require also to be in the position in which we find it."

And well they may; for, though we do not see what the Latin should have to do, more than the English, with requiring this; yet surely simple common sense would find no difficulty in understanding the passage as it stands in the original text and in the English Ver sion, also and all, without being frightened by any spectres of entities or nonentities. It is a case of obvious ellipsis; “and when they found not his body, they came saying that they had (not only not found it, but) also seen," etc.; i. e. one fact is stated, the not finding or the failure to find, and also another fact, the seeing, etc.

"If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be

1851.] Criticisms on the Phraseology of Scripture.


persuaded though one rose from the dead." "Though one rise from the dead. Though one rose means, though one did rise at some former period." Yes, if you are sure it is in the indicative mood; otherwise it may mean, though one should rise at some future time.

"If one went unto them from the dead, they will repent." "That is, if one went at a future time, which is intense nonsense."

This certainly is sharp enough. Yet in the face of such authoritative criticism, we venture to assert that the use of rose and went with reference to a subjunctive future is good, idiomatic, and often elegant English. And nothing is wanting in either of those passages to make them pure, consistent English, but to change the corresponding will to would, which any one may see would leave the reference to futurity as distinct as ever. Our Translators retained will, probably because the original has the Indicative future, while the verbs translated rose and went are both in the aorist subjunctive. Luther too has translated these last words by the imperfect subjunctive in German; while, for the will, he has in one of the cases followed the Greek with a simple future, and in the other has conformed the phrase to the German idiom, which in this case is the same as the English, and used the conditional form.

"He that pricketh the ear maketh it to show her knowledge." "We see no reason for it in one place and her in the other."

This is a borrowed criticism. Its supporters seem either to think that her is in the objective Case, or to be ignorant that its was not used by the Translators of the English Bible, but thereof, his, or her, instead of it. A strict following of the Anglo-Saxon might have led them to use his as the genitive of it in all cases. But though they did not intend to personify objects of the neuter gender and used it for the nominative and accusative Cases, yet, as the genitive its was not then in use, they seem to have taken in its stead his or her, according as they would more naturally have said he or she in case of personification. Earth, for example, would more naturally be personified in the feminine; consequently we find such phrases as the following: "And now art thou cursed from the earth which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. When thou tillest the ground it shall not henceforth yield to thee her strength." Gen. 4:11, 12. "And the earth shall remove out of her place,. . . . and it shall be as the chased roe," etc. And so in a multitude of instances. Of charity, which Mr. Harrison, by an original metaphor, styles a "maternal virtue," it is said, "doth not be have itself unseemly, seeketh not her own." If therefore that pase VOL. VIII. No. 32.


sage in the Apocrypha must stand corrected, it will not stand alone. The truth is, our Translation of the Bible was made too early for some modern critics, who set down everything which is not actual usage as "nonsense," or at least as solecism.

"But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." Acts 5: 39. "Lest your attempts to put down and silence the disciples of Jesus be of such a nature with reference to his assumed position, as to exhibit you in the character even of fighters against God, and not against man only, unoTE nai Deoμázor signore, lest you should prove even God-fighters."

"It is evident that, according to the sense of this passage, the term even should have followed and not preceded the words to fight — 'lest haply ye be found to fight even against God." And yet he himself has put it before in the version which he has given with the Greek in the preceding paragraph; so dangerous is it for some to play with edged tools.

"Sorrow not as them that have no hope." 1 Thess. 4: 13. "This sentence made out would be, sorrow not as them sorrow that have no hope. As they sorrow, not as them sorrow." Yes; or, "even as others which have no hope," might do, as it stands in the text of the English version.

"And the contention was so great among them that they departed asunder one from another." Acts 15: 39. "As Paul and Barnabas only are here spoken of, they departed one from the other, not one from another; the said Paul went this way and the said Barnabas that. When we say they departed one from another, we at once plunge into plurality," - and much more in the same strain and style; all which might have been spared, had the writer condescended to consult the text from which he professes to quote. That reads: "And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other." At least thus it stands in our "American" Bibles. Mr. Harrison assures us, in his Preface, that he has not set up men of straw to contend with, but has subjected to criticism only actually existing errors. Besides, in these cases he puts down the chapter and verse, which he has neglected to do, or has done incorrectly, or his printer for him, in some other cases. Such blunders in citations of Scripture are very common, but are exceedingly disreputable particularly in a clergyman. We are sorry to see this last copied verbatim by Professor Fowler in his work on the English Language.

But our readers are already more than wearied with pursuing this


Government and Popular Education.


sort of game. Before taking leave of Mr. Harrison's book, however, we will add, that, if we count aright, it arraigns in all some forty-four passages of Scripture as containing grammatical errors. Of these we have here reviewed seventeen; and our readers can judge of the character of the criticism which has been applied on one side and the other. Of the remaining twenty-seven, we think fifteen or sixteen more equally capable of defence were there a demand and an opportunity for making it. There remain, therefore, only about a dozen cases out of the forty-four, in which, in our judgment, the charge of error has been substantiated. Of course a far greater number of passages containing alleged grammatical errors are drawn together from other quarters, and it may be that, in a greater proportion of those cases, Mr. Harrison's criticisms are correct; sed ex pede leonem.




By Rev. E. C. Wines, East Hampton, L. I.

THE subject of Popular Education, is exciting increased interest among the people of the United States. No subject can more worthily occupy the thoughts, or call into action the energies of our citizens, in their individual or social capacity. The cause of education is eminently the cause of the people. It is the cause of public order and virtue, of public liberty and prosperity.

We propose, in the present article, to inquire into the Relation of Government to Popular Education; and to show, that it is among the most solemn and imperative of obligations resting on a government, to provide by law for the thorough instruction of all the children in the community. In support of this position, we shall adduce three principal considerations. The line of argument and illustration which we intend to pursue, may be indicated by the following propo sitions: Popular education is necessary, and therefore it is the duty of the State to provide for it first, because of its influence on na tional, family, and individual, character and happiness; secondly, because of its connection with the purity and perpetuity of our civil

institutions; and, thirdly, because of its bearing on the pecuniary interests of the community, it being by far the readiest and the surest road to public prosperity and wealth. It is on the last of these topics that we propose to dwell most in detail, in the present discussion.

First, we infer that it is the duty of government to make adequate provision for the sound Christian instruction of the people, because of the influence of education on character and happiness.

That education, founded on Christianity and impregnated with its principles, is adapted to elevate the character and promote the happiness of its possessors, is a truth attested by universal experience. It has ever been the great promoter of whatsoever things are true, honest, pure, lovely, and of good report. It is the parent of virtue, industry, and order, and essential to the full benefits of gospel preaching. The want of it is the principal cause of the extreme profligacy, improvidence and misery, which are so prevalent among the laboring classes in many countries.

A comparison between the Irish and Scottish peasantry would, of istelf, be sufficient to establish this general fact. Among the former, we behold little else than sloth, destitution, crime, and misery; among the latter, even those who are in the worst comparative circumstances, a degree of comfort, the fruit of industry and order, is everywhere observable. To what is this difference to be ascribed? The Irish possess as vigorous constitutions, and are as capable of hard labor, as the Scotch. In the two great physical elements of prosperity-soil and climate — Ireland has a clear advantage over Scotland. The question, then, returns upon us, to what is the difference in their social condition to be ascribed? Something, doubtless, is to be set down to the account of misgovernment in Ireland. But, after making every allowance on that score, that truth and candor can require, the difference is yet, beyond a peradventure, owing to the prevalence of intellectual and moral culture in the one case, and the want of it in the other. No other cause can be named, adequate to the effect, and consequently, to assign any other, would violate one of the first principles of philosophy, as well as one of the clearest dictates of common sense. In Ireland, the education of the poor is deplorably neglected. Few of them can either read or write; and most of them are ignorant of nearly everything which it most befits a rational and accountable creature to understand. In Scotland, an order of things essentially different, exists. It is rare to meet with a person who has not some education. Schools exist in every parish. The means of

« PreviousContinue »