Page images

As one, escaped from tempest's danger,
Hears from the cliff the breakers roar,
So peace, to doubtful hearts a stranger,
Has bid thee climb her surge-beat shore,
And mark how ills avail to bless
With love's high tranquil happiness.

Then whether, in my life's unfolding,
Its petals open bright and wide,
Or whether they that pass, beholding,
See fresh and vigorous growth denied ;
Whether like crystal dewdrops glitter

Life's radiant thoughts of peaceful joy,
Or whether Sorrow's fountain bitter
Hope's fairest blossomings destroy ;-
Or good or ill alike can bless
While in thy love I've happiness.

Yes! spine-clad be the path of duty,

No thorns I'll feel while led by thee;
And sense, entrancing though her beauty,
Shall vainly weave her spells for me!
Pain feels no smart, ills breathe no sighing,
Care leads no sadness in her train,
While still, upon thy smile relying,
My deeds thy benison can gain.

Thus earth and heaven combine to bless
With life, with love, with happiness!


IT has sometimes been charged upon New Churchmen, that by attaching so high a value to the "spiritual sense" of the Word of God, they derogate from the importance of the letter. It may be that there have been instances among us in respect to which the charge is applicable. If there be any such cases, however, their view is not a little unreasonable, and certainly cannot be justified by either the teaching or the example of Swedenborg.

1 "When were our Gospels written? An Argument by Constantine Tischendorf; with a Narrative of the Discovery of the Sinaitic Manuscript." Fourth Edition. London: Religious Tract Society.

[ocr errors]

On every rational ground it must be evident that unless the "letter" of the Word be divine, it could not contain the spiritual, celestial, and divine wisdom insphered therein. Unless the body of a man were human, it could not contain and be the incorporation of a human soul. There must of necessity exist a structural unity in everything that is. Unless the very form of Jesus Christ were, certainly as to its initiaments, divine, the Saviour could not have been "God manifest in the flesh." If this were the case with the "Word made flesh," it must also be true of the written Word of God. In order that it might serve as the outer clothing, the literal investiture of the interior "spirit,” the letter" of the Word, though accommodated to the states of intelligence and affection of the people to whom it was given, was yet from God: "all scripture is given by inspiration of God;” deóvEVOTOS, God breathed. The thing described as "Scripture" is what was written; which, manifestly, was the letter of the Word. To attach every importance to the "spirit," and comparatively little or no importance to the "letter," would be paralleled by attaching every value to the upper rooms of a mansion, and none to the foundations or lower storey; or to attach every value to the soul of a man, and none to his body; or to attach every value to the spiritual world, and but little or none at all to the natural universe, which yet is its basis and outbirth.

It must further seem evident that from a distorted, interpolated, inaccurate, and unreliable literal sense, only a disjointed, fragmentary, imperfect, and unreliable spiritual sense could be drawn. Although in many places the letter has been a little bent from strictly literal narration, in order to furnish a more suitable basis for the spiritual wisdom it supports, yet the letter is divine, divinely adapted to contain heavenly wisdom. The adjuster of the containing form to what it contains is God.

Swedenborg teaches that the Word in the letter is in its "fulness, glory, and power;" that not only is the letter "the basis and continent” of the interior senses of Scripture, but that the letter is "not annihilated, but is confirmed by the internal sense;" that "the letter of the Word is as to every tittle holy and divine;" that "the letter of the Word is the Divine truth in the ultimate of order, and is of the same necessity as a foundation of a house;" that "all doctrines are to be drawn from the letter of the Word, and to be confirmed thereby ;" and he says emphatically that "by hair the literal sense of the Word is signified, as appears evident from those in the spiritual world. They who have held the literal sense of the Word in contempt there appear bald; and on the contrary, they who have loved the literal sense of the Word, appear there with becoming hair." (A. R. 147.) The same necessity exists for the literal sense, as the basis of the spiritual sense, as exists for the church, as the basis of heaven. The same necessity exists for the literal sense, as the continent of the spiritual sense, as exists for the "cutaneous covering" of a spirit, which prevents the inner affections

and thoughts of a spirit from being dispersed abroad and dissipated. It is the indispensable boundary, or ultimate of Divine Truth.

Hence it becomes to New Churchmen a matter of paramount importance to determine what is the true text of Scripture. The interest felt in this question, by those who hold to the "single sense" theory, cannot be anything like so keen as should be theirs who regard the letter as containing priceless treasures of infinite wisdom. If the Gospels were proved to be a fraud, and belief in their authenticity a delusion, New Churchmen would be far greater losers by the discovery than all others. Seeing in the Gospels so much more than others are able to perceive, they are the more precious to us than to others. To lose a locked casket into which one had never seen, and of the contents of which one had no idea, would be felt as a far less serious calamity than the loss of a casket full of unprecedented jewels, and of the value of which some idea had been formed. By their position, New Churchmen are compelled to be the chief maintainers of the divinity of Jesus Christ, "the Word made flesh;" and by their position also, they should be the chief defenders of the inspiration of the letter of the written Word!

If this view be sound, it must be a matter of extreme interest to all New Churchmen to watch every approximation to a correct and authoritative "text" of Holy Writ; to follow every discussion which more clearly exhibits or more satisfactorily demonstrates the authenticity of the sacred books; and to respect every toiler in this particular department of scriptural research. On these grounds they must be predisposed to welcome the brief story of the most eventful part of his life, told with admirable modesty by Constantine Tischendorf, and which is prefixed to a masterly essay from his pen on the question, "When were our Gospels written?" Although it is well known that he was the fortunate discoverer of the Sinaitic copy of the Bible, and although the story of the discovery has been very frequently told, and the value of the manuscript he discovered was commented on in the pages of the Intellectual Repository at the time of its first publication, it may not be without interest to many of our readers if we condense the story as narrated by himself. Happily the work of Constantine Tischendorf is of such importance that the account of it will bear many repetitions.

Among those who have devoted great mental powers, very extensive linguistic and antiquarian resources, and who have consecrated the whole of their laborious lives to the high object of proving the Bible to be, in very truth, the Word of God, Tischendorf stands pre-eminent. His most famous discovery of the Sinaitic MS. was but the capstone of a pyramid of previous research, the reward of no inconsiderable amount of foregone labour. In 1839, then twenty-four years of age, he produced two theological essays which won prizes, and were very favourably received by the German public. Their reception determined him to devote himself to the textual study of the New Testament. He attempted to reconstruct, from the best authorities,

the exact text of the New Testament; and his book was published in 1840. The work he had thus entered upon only convinced him how much more labour needed to be expended before the important task could be accomplished. He resolved to undertake a fresh examination of all the original MSS., and to this end he determined to visit all those libraries where early copies of the New Testament, in whole or in part, were known to be deposited, and also to endeavour to discover other, and previously unknown copies of the Scriptures.

The accepted text (textus receptus) was arrived at in the sixteenth century, by a careful collation of all the ancient MSS., both in the original and in various early translations, which were then known to exist. Since that time, however, various MSS. have been discovered possessing far greater antiquity than any to which the learned editors of the Scriptures in the sixteenth century had access. It is obvious that the nearer to the time of the original any copy was made, it would be more likely to be an exact transcript of the original text. Copies of copies of copies many times removed, could hardly fail to both repeat errors in the text and successively to increase the number of such errors. Hence, the greater the antiquity of any MSS. translation or copy of the Scriptures, the greater would be its authority. With these more ancient and more authoritative MSS. the accepted text had never been thoroughly compared; the necessary work still remained to be done; the scholar who was incontestibly best fitted to perform it was Constantine Tischendorf.

In addition to this duty of careful collation, the happy thought had occurred to him, that one probable source whence such early and most precious MSS. might be obtained had until that time been neglected. What more likely than that in some recess of Greek or Coptic, Syrian or Armenian monasteries, early copies of portions of the Scriptures were stored up, their value unknown, even their existence unknown, but lying there to be discovered by the first scholar of competent skill and sufficient enterprise? He was confident in his skill, and felt conscious of the intrepidity of character needed for the quest. But merely to enter on such an investigation required considerable funds and influential recommendations. The latter he could easily obtain; the former not quite so easily. The Minister of Public Instruction in Saxony gave him about £15; it was sufficient to start him on his journey. He arrived in Paris with about £7, 10s. in his purse; but in Paris he speedily secured sympathetic and helpful friends. For five years he prosecuted his search with toil incredible and with a success unparalleled. The libraries of Paris, Holland, England, Basle, Florence, Venice, Modena, Milan, Turin, Vienna, and Munich became his workshops. Egypt, the Coptic convents of the Libyan Desert, the Greek convents of Mount Sinai, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, St. Saba on the shores of the Dead Sea, Nazareth, Smyrna, Patmos and Beyrout, Constantinople and Athens, were made by him his places of research. A host of valuable MSS. rewarded his self-sacrificing toil.

If any doubt had been felt as to Tischendorf's competency to undertake the task, one triumph of his skill would alone have effectually set all such doubts at rest. It was in 1842, when Tischendorf was only 27 years of age. In one of the libraries in Paris there lay a MS, of the Greek text. The writing on it was judged to be of the fifth century, it had been retouched and renewed in the seventh, and again in the ninth century. In the twelfth century, however, the parchment had been first washed, and then rubbed with pumice-stone, and over the original writing a treatise of an old theologian named Ephrem had been written. It was thence styled the Ephrem palimpsest. In the seventeenth century Wetstein had attempted to decipher

the original writing on this palimpsest and had failed. Griesbach of Jena and others had since similarly tried and similarly failed. It was deemed illegible. Tischendorf accomplished the tremendous task; he completely deciphered the original writing, and even distinguished between the dates of the different writers who had been engaged on the MS. His publication of the contents of this palimpsest secured for Tischendorf a shower of honours. A German University gave him the degree of D.D., just as a Swiss University was about to confer it. Three foreign governments decorated him. Others sent him gold medals. The Dutch government caused one to be engraved expressly in recognition of this work. Thenceforward his course was open. The King of Saxony, Frederick Augustus II., became his patron; Prince John, the King's brother, sent him distinguished marks of approval. The Pope, Gregory XVI., favourably received him. Cardinal Mezzofanti showed him especial attention.

It was in May 1844 that Tischendorf's great discovery began to be made. In the Convent of St. Catharine, at the foot of Mount Sinai, he saw in the middle of the great hall a large basket full of old parchments; and the librarian told him that two heaps of papers like those, mouldered by time, had been already committed to the flames. To his surprise he found among these parchments a number of sheets of a copy of the Old Testament in Greek. The authorities of the Convent allowed him to take possession of forty-three sheets; but the "too lively satisfaction" he had evinced aroused their suspicions as to the value of the MS. He enjoined on the monks to take religious care of any other remains of the MS. which they might discover, and returned to Europe. He gave the name of the Codex Frederick Augustus to the Sinaitic fragments, which he deposited, together with fifty other MSS., in the library of the University of Leipsic. The Sinaitic fragments were faithfully copied in fac simile by lithography, and the edition was sumptuously bound.

The Greek monks had now learned the value of the treasure they had possessed, and nothing would induce them to entertain the idea of parting with any remainder of the MSS. which had been so long slumbering in dust and darkness. Tischendorf determined to renew his search, and as a last resource to copy the MS. which he could not procure. Accordingly, in 1853 he sailed from Trieste, and in the month of February he stood "for the second time in the Convent of Sinai." Much literary treasure rewarded this visit; but the remainder of the precious MS., excepting eleven short lines of Genesis, he could not obtain.

He was made of stuff that could not be daunted by failure. So in 1856 he submitted to the Russian Government a plan of a journey for making systematic researches among these convents in the East. This proposal from a foreigner and a heretic, to the Emperor of the Greek and orthodox Church, to institute a search among Greek convents, aroused a jealous and fanatical opposition at St. Petersburg. The good cause, however, prevailed; and in September 1858, the Emperor consented, and liberally furnished Dr. Tischendorf with funds and the requisite authority. His inner hope was that the deep reverence felt by all the monks of the East for the Emperor of Russia would enable him to secure the rich prize of whatever might remain of the Sinaitic Codex. In January 1859 he stood a third time in the Convent of Sinai. This time the fullest success rewarded his researches. A large portion of the Old Testament, the New Testament complete, and in addition the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Pastor of Hermas, lay before him. Full of joy, he devoted the whole of the night to transcribe the Epistle of Barnabas. "For two centuries," he says, search has been made in vain for the original Greek of the first part of this Epistle, which has only been

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »