Page images
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


WHAT the death of Christ is our only title to salva-

tion, all Christians (I should hope) are readily agreed; but how the death of Christ operates to that end, bas been a matter of great variety of opinion. The doctrine of imputation, properly so called, is clearly unscriptural, and that of satisfaction not much better founded. The best solution of the difficulty I ever met with, is Dr. Balguy's, in his Essay on Redemption. It is perfectly scriptural, and very rational. But even this hypothesis hath its difficulties; and perhaps it is a subject which, after all, can never be entirely freed from them. The author just mentioned supposes, that the redemption of the hunian race was conferred upon Christ in the way of reward for his perfect moral obedience even unto death. But how was there any merit in such obedience, unless it be admitted, with the Socinians, that Christ was peccable? If his moral perfection (with reverence be it spoken) was wrought in him er necessitate by the incomprehensible union of the divine Logos with the human nature, I canpot see (strictly speaking) that there is any more merit in it, properly so called -any rçal foundation, i. e. for reward, than there is in the new man generated, according to the doctrine of Calvin, by irresistible grace. In the hope that some one of your able correspondents will vindicate a solution which I would not willingly renounce,

I remain, Sir,
Your well-wisher, and obedient Servant,


Vol. X. Churchm. Mag. March 1806.



[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

AM much concerned to find that your valuable cor

respondent Mr. Pearson, should still persist in maintaining that Jephthah's daughter was put to death in compliance with the rash vow of her father, contrary (as I conceive) to the true meaning of the text, and contrary to the opinion of the best and ablest divines on the subject. I had not seen his Annotations on Dr. Paley's Work, and therefore could not suppose that he was acquainted with Dr. Randolph's discourse on this subject; and um rather surprized that he should consider it as not satisfactory. I can only say, that it gave the highest satisfaction to the learned audience to whom it was delivered ; and when the discourse was printed, it met with approbation from every quarter. Every copy ofit was eagerly purchased, and the sermon was very soon outof print. I have already cited the opinion of Bishop Lowth and Dr. Parr in favour of it. Both these learned men consider it a happy discovery, and decisive of the point in dispute. I will now add the testimony of another eminent Hebrew critic to the same purpose. It is that of Dr. Kennicott in a posthumous work, entitled Remarks on Select Passages in the Old Testament, 8vo. p. 100. “Whether Jephthah did, or did not sacrifice his daughter, has been of late the subject of much controversy. But the chief difficulty seems happily removed by the learned Dr. Randolph, who has shewn that the latter clause in this verse, does not necessarily refer to any thing, or any person to be offered up; but that it may be translated, and (or) I will offer up to him (to God) a burnt-offering. The pronoun thus suffixed, is often dative, just as in English, offer kim a present, do him honour. The vow therefore was, that if what came forth to meet him, was fit to be deyoted to the immediate service of God, it should be so; if not, he would offer unto God a burnt-offering. The event corresponded. The daughter of Jephthah coming forth, voluntarily consented to withdraw from the world, and devote the remainder of her life towards assisting in such sacred matters as were in those days transacted near the ark of the Lord, and in the services of religion. See all that follows in verses 35-39 of this chapter of Judges, and Levit. xxvii. 9-4. See also the whule of Dr. Randolph's excellent Sermon on this subject, and Bp. Lowth's note on Isaiah, p. 199.”

It is observable also that many of the most able expositors of scripture had long before this adopted the same opinion, and used many of the same arguments, as Dr. Randolph has done, against the common interpretation of this passage, though they were unacquainted with the true meaning of the words. Sir. Thomas Brown in particular, in his Vulgar Errors, B. v. ch. 14. speaking of the picture of Jephthah sacrificing his daughter, has these words : “ The hand of the painter confidently setteth forth the picture of Jephthah, in the posture of Abraham sacrificing his only daughter. Thus it is commonly received, and hath had the attest of many worthy writers. Notwithstanding, upon enquiry we find the matter doubtful, and many upon probable grounds have been of another opinion, conceiving in this oblation not a natural but a civil kind of death, and a separation only unto the Lord : for that he pursued not his vow unto a literal oblation there need not argument, both from the text and reason.” He then proceeds to make use of many of the same reasons and arguments, as have been since alledged by Dr. Randolph to the same purpose; and in conclusion, thus forcibly expresses himself. " There being two ways to dispose of her, either to separate her unto the Lord, or offer her up as a sacrifice; it is of no necessity the latter should be necessary; and surely less derogatory to the text and history of the people of God, must be the former.”. Bishop Hall, likewise, in his. Contemplations on the Old Testament, seems entirely to reject the notion of Jephthah's daughter being put to death, and 10 understand the passage according to the marginal readings; and therefore he considers the grief of Jephthah asarising from this circumstance, that he saw the hope of posterity extinguished in the virginity of his daughter. 'Dr. Waterland also adopts the same explanation in his Scripture



Vindicated, pt. ii. p. 81–84; and though he admits this construction to be doubtful, yet he thinks the other more so. Mr. Jenkyn in his Reasonableness and Certainty of the Christian Religion, vol. ii. ch. 18. gives into the same way of thinking, and draws this conclusion from the whole, “ that the daughter of Jephthah ought not to have been sacrificed, and most probably was not.”. Mr. Ostervald, in his Reflections on this chapter of Judges, holds nearly the same language. I might add the names of several other respectable writers on this side of the question, such as Selden, Le Clerc, &c. but not having their works by me, can only speak from the authority of others. But the words of Lord Clarendon (as quoted from Dr. Dodd in a note to Dr. Randolph's sermon) are so remarkable, that I would wish to lay them before the reader. “ I should rather hope,” says the noble writer, ” that we do not yet understand the meaning of the vow, than that a vow unlawfully and unnaturally made, the like whereof is not in Scripture, should be unlawfully perforined. Whatever is declared to be done in sacred Scripture, which is the word of God, I am bound to believe; but that this passage is faithfully translated, when it contradicts the law of God and nature, I hope may be innocently doubted."

To the weight of such authority, and to the united sentiments of so many eminent writers, and so mighty in the Scriptures, surely some deference is due. But I do not wish io rest the matter on authority alone, and shall therefore now proceed to consider Mr. Pearson's arguments in support of the common interpretation. But I must first premise, that I cannot but think, that if he had paid due attention to Dr. Randolph's discourse on this subject, he would there have found most of his own arguments fully, obviated and answered.

His first reason for supposing that Jephthah's daughter was actually put to death, is founded on Levit. xxvii. 28, 29, where it is said, “ that no devoted thing, &c. shall be sold or redeemed, every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord. None devoted, which shall be devoted of man, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death." But it should be observed, that the vow here spoken of, is a Cherem. There were two sorts of vows among the Jews, the one called Cherem, the other Neder. There were also two kinds of Cherem, of which one was redeemable and the other not. Now Jephthah's vow was a Neder,


as the word in the original denotes, and therefore most certainly redeemable. But for a more full explanation of this matter, I must refer to Dr. Randolph's Discourse, and the Appendix annexed, where this very text is fully discussed, and placed in its proper point of view.

2. With respect to the word which in our version is rendered to lament, it is well observed by Dr. Randolph and others, that the word has no such meaning in Scripture, neither in its root nor derivatives; but, according to the best lexicographers, signifies either to make presents to, or to discourse and converse with. And that the word should in this place be rendered in some such sense, is plain, from the addition of the particle denoting the dalive case, prefixed to the noun following the verb. They went to discourse with, or make presents to, the daughter of Jephthah, and that four times in the year. All this is rational and consistent with the notion of Jephthah's daughter being devoted to a state of virginity. In the other case, it is a manifest absurdity. To talk with, or make presents to a dead person is impossible: and therefore it is well argued both by Dr. Watkins and Dr. Randolphi, that from this sense of the word, she must be sup: posed to survive the completion of her father's vow. And here I must beg leave to surmise, that our translators seem to be much at a loss, and to halt between two opinions concerning the rendering of this passage. We may collect this, I think, from the insertion of these two words in the margin, (or in the 31st verse, and talk with in the 40th), which plainly contradict the meaning they seem to have adopted in the text. This may be considered then, as one of several places in Scripture, where the marginal reading is preferable to that of the text. But Mr. Pearson would wish to shelter himself under the testimony of Josephus, and the authority of the Septuagint. With respect to the former, it should be observed, that the notion of Jephthah's sacrificing his daughter seems to have been popular among the Jews; and it may well be supposed that Josephus had imbibed the prejudices of his countrymen, and acquiesced in the received opinion. And as to the Septuagint, it must be allowed to be a version of high antiquity and authority, and a great help to the right understanding of the scriptures of the Old Testament; but it is certainly not infallible, and in many instances is to be received with, caution, especially where it differs


« PreviousContinue »