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tablished habit, the authority of great names, or an apprehension, to which inductive arguments must always in some degree be liable, that the next step there might rise up an exception to our general principle-if such an one,
should find here a sufficient number of quotations from the Fathers, in which the interpretation was uniformly correspondent to what your theory teaches, then probably this would appear to him the strongest imaginable confirmation, that the notion of any ambiguity in the form of expression in those verses, is a mistaken notion; and he would conclude, that the common translation must be given up, unless they who still maintain it, can produce reasons for so doing, of which we have as yet no conception.
But, on the other hand, should there turn out to be a considerable disagreement among these interpretations of the Fathers—then, I conceive, Sir, in spite of all other evidence, it will be thought that their assertion is not false, who declare the phrase to be ambiguous, these examples must be acknowledged to be remarkable exçeptions to the general theory, and the vulgar translation cannot be proved to be erroneous.
This, Sir, is the purport of the following letters. Your fule is to be taken for granted as generally true: and we are to enquire into the antient interpretations of some particular examples. And, since I have already hinted, that my collections are not inconsiderable in extent, it can hardly fail, whatsoever their nature may turn out to
be, but that one party or the other of those who shall come hereafter to speak of these examples, will be supplied with a second important argument, which though occasionally glanced at, has never yet, I may venture to say, been drawn out at any length, the only form in which it was likely to produce a considerable effect.
But, it is obvious, that more than this which I have mentioned, might have been aimed at.
I will just set down the sketch of a bolder analysis, the course of which, if it had been possible for us to have traced upwards, I fancy we might have satisfied the most sceptical examiner.
Let us suppose, in this case, that your rule is not the ground-work of our operations, that we have no knowledge of any such theory, but are wishing merely to satisfy ourselves of the true interpretation of six or seven verses in the New Testament.
If now, we had within our reach all that came from the hands of Christian Greek writers, from the times of the Apostles, suppose we say till the end of the sixth century, and found them during all that period, quoting and explaining those verses a competent number of times, and in one constant meaning ; suppose also, that we could discover, that the interpretation was never murmured at, but admitted by certain heresies which were conceived to be particularly touched by it; suppose moitover, that within the lapse of those years,
matters were so changed, that at one time the orthodox would rather that the expressions could have borne another signification ; and lastly, suppose that all along the same expressions as those in question, and others like them, were used perpetually, and by all parties, in that one constant meaning—this, I imagine, Sir, would be satisfactory; there could be no longer any doubt respecting the required translation; and if, in the ignorance of all this evidence, a different one had been adopted, or a notion entertained, that the texts.might, from some supposed ambiguity in the expression, admit of two interpretations, no one would deny but that either of those errors must be renounced, and men's ideas be reformed according to the standard of the primitive authorities.
And now, if after having proceeded thus far, we were struck with a philological peculiarity, appearing not only in our few original texts, but also in all those similar expressions which we had before remarked for another
purpose; and not only there, but we saw also, that through the whole language, the same peculiarity was preserved wherever two personal nouns were applied to the same individual, and there only, then, at last, we should have reached your rule, the fountain-head of all those interpretations; then might we boldly declare, that the idiom was not ambiguous; seeing that it was utterly impossible, but that such a circumstance must have been detected amid all this evidence.
However, if any confirmation of our conclusion were still wanting, this would be a confirmation of it, if we should find, first, that in another language (the Latin) which did not, from its natural constitution, admit of the idiom which we had discovered, the translation of those very verses that were the subject of our original enquiries, and other verses like them, had been often confounded, and was used by different authors in differ- · ent significations, according to their particular purposes, or different apprehensions of its meaning: if, again, we found, that in the translation of several compositions, from the Latin into the Greek language, by contemporary writers, this property of the article was invariably observed, so that the very same Latin words should be rendered differently, accordingly as it appeared to be the mind of the author, that they should be expressive of one, or two persons: and lastly, if besides we discovered, that among modern writers, when the idea of an ambiguity in the original was once started, it had never after been suffered to sleep again, but had been taken advantage of, and pleaded continually by the interested from the sixteenth till the nineteenth century.
It is obvious, Sir, that all this we speak of, at present, merely as an ideal picture. Whether or no we shall have been able to realize any one of its features, may be a subject of future consideration,
It is time to proceed to the mention of a few other particulars.
As it will no doubt be desirable to know to what ex. tent my researches have been carried, I have subjoined a catalogue of authors, and of the editions which I made use of*. My examination was not conducted carelessly; but that no passage has escaped me in all the ground I have gone over, where one or other of our texts may be quoted, I am very far from pretending to assume.
All the Greek authorities, I have thought it right, for several reasons, to transcribe at length, though many of them, as might be expected, contain nothing upon the words which are the immediate objects of our consideration. It is plain, that in an argument like ours, it is of considerable importance, if in addition to that which is on our side, we can accumulate evidence that conveys nothing against us.
I had also many reasons, too obvious to need explaining, why I should not confine my enquiries exclusively to Greek authorities. My Latin catalogue, however, will not be found comparatively so copious as the Greek; neither, probably, did I always exert there precisely the same degree of vigilance.
In producing my authorities on each particular verse, the order which I follow is the chronological: and the writer by whose chronology I have regulated myself, I
* See Appendix, No. 6.