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Again: In a letter to Melancthon, Luther "mentions, as an additional reason which in
duced him to return home, his translation of the • Bible into the German language. This was a
great and important work, in the execution of ' which he stood in need of the help of his · friends. (P. 610.)
The high estimation in which Luther's translation is held, even to this day, in Germany, clearly shews that learned men do not consider it merely as the translation of a translation, and especially of a translation which the very attachment of the church of Rome, viewing it, as it does, as of superior authority in some respects to the originals, has tended so greatly to lower in the estimation of the Protestant and reformed churches. To decide on the merits of Luther's translation, remarks Dr. Milner, 'would require not only an 'exact knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew, but • also of the German language.' (p. 646.) But would the exact knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew be requisite in forming this judgment, if the translation were made from the Vulgate: It seems, indeed, to me very probable, that Luther and his learned coadjutors did not needlessly, or affectedly, depart from the commonly received Latin version in translating the scriptures, but only when the original languages would evidently and decidedly admit of a better rendering: and that it is this wise and modest caution which has given occasion to some, who have not fully examined the fact, to report it a mere translation of the Vulgate.
ON THE FAITH OF ANCIENT BFLIEVERS.
Permit me to make a few remarks on the paper in pp. 362, 363, of your number for June, entitled, (on the cover,) The Faith of the Twelve Apostles,' and signed ' A Friend to Fairness.'
The passage adduced from my commentary on the latter part of the sixth chapter of John (which perhaps required a little further elucidation,) relates to a portion of our Lord's history coincident with the fourteenth chapter of Matthew; as it is evident, since the sixth of John begins with the miracle of feeding the multitude, recorded in that chapter of Matthew. My statement, therefore, concerning the faith of the twelve apostles, if so it may be called, refers to the apostles at that time, not afterwards. In the sixteenth chapter of Matthew, on Peter's saying, “ Thou art the
Christ, the Son of the living God;” our Lord answered, “ Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for « flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, “ but my Father which is in heaven.” Now, was not Peter an upright disciple at this time? had he not true faith? Yet in the same discourse, when our Lord spake of his sufferings and death, “ Peter began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far “ from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee. “ But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee
“ behind me, Satan; thou art an offence to me: “ for thou savourest not the things that be of
God, but those that be of men.”! Now, I ask, did Peter at this time understand and believe the doctrine of the atonement by the sufferings and death of Christ: Whenever our Lord spake' upon that subject, all the apostles manifested the same ignorance and “ slowness of heart to believe all “ that the prophets had spoken :"2 until at length, after his resurrection, it is said, “ Then opened "he their understandings, that they should un“ derstand the scriptures; and said unto them, “ Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ “ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead.” 3 From that time, and especially after the day of Pentecost, they clearly understood, and firmly believed, and faithfully preached, and shed their blood in confirmation of their testimony to this doctrine ; especially, the propitiation for sin by the sufferings and death of Emmanuel.
The apostles, previously to our Lord's crucifixion, confessed their assured belief in him as the Son of the living God; they received him in his prophetical character: “ Thou hast the words “ of eternal life ;” and, though they mistook the real nature of his kingdom, they firmly believed that he was the King of Israel, yea, the Redeemer of Israel. But their prejudices and carnal hopes closed their understanding in respect of his sufferings and death, and the glory that followed.
· Matth. xvi. 16, 17, 21—24.
Luke xxiv, 44-48.
They “ erred, not knowing the scriptures," until their Lord “ opened their understanding” that they should understand them. This was not for. want of outward light or revelation : for not only the believers under the Old Testament saw something perhaps rather indistinctly, concerning it; but John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as “ the “ Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the “ world :”! and by the same light of the Old Testament the apostles afterwards clearly saw the doctrine of the atonement, and proved it argumentatively and conclusively to the Jews. It was, then, for want of further internal illumination; and God had wise and holy reasons for leaving them in part under their prejudices, till after the propitiatory sacrifice had been offered, and the Redeemer was risen: and He does not see good to confer his gifts according to our systems, but “ according to the counsel of his
own will.” “I have many things,” our Lord declares “to say unto you,
but ye cannot bear them now." There can hardly be a doubt that the nature and necessity of his propitiatory sacrifice and priestly office, constituted one of those things, probably the principal of them; for not a word was dropped by any of the apostles in respect of the high priesthood of Christ, during his continuance among them.
I apprehend that the degree in which the Old Testament believers understood the prophecies, promises, and types of the Messiah, under their
I John i. 29.
dispensation, depended entirely on the degree in which they were “ taught of God” by the illumination of his Holy Spirit. They who were not thus taught of God, understood nothing of the true meaning of these discoveries. Some, among believers, we may suppose, were much more enlightened than others, and their understandings were much more“ opened to understand the “ Scriptures.”—The case of prophets was also different from that of ordinary unbelievers. But all who were born and taught of God, looked forward to the Messiah as a Saviour from wrath and sin, with more or less distinct views of the nature and method of that salvation. It was the same during our Lord's life and ministry; and indeed, under the full light of the gospel, it is not very dissimilar.
I cannot but think, that even this subject shews true faith not to consist in the articles of the creed already received, but in the disposition of the heart to believe the testimony of God in an obedient manner, and humbly to wait and pray for further teaching. Many, with a sound creed, have only a dead faith ; and many, with a living faith, have hitherto a defective creed: but, like the apostles, their light shall increase, till they receive in faith and love all things necessary for salvation, and comfort, and fruitfulness.