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Thoughts On A Revelation by Samuel John Jerram

Section 4. We will now proceed to offer some remarks as to the conditions under whichà

4. We will now proceed to offer some remarks as to the conditions under which a revelation may be expected to be transmitted. Much of what has been said, with regard to the recording of a revelation, by the person to whom it was originally made, applies to the transmission of such a record to future generations, and its translation into other languages. If a belief (in what way originated we do not now stop to enquire) in the reality of the recorded revelation existed, the greatest care would naturally be taken in making copies from it, and also in translating it. Well-known examples of this are to be found in the care which the Jews of old used in making new copies of their sacred books, and also in the fact that, in our own country, no printers, but those appointed by the Queen, are permitted to publish the authorized version of the Bible. It can hardly be considered possible that those who believed in the reality of a recorded revelation, and valued it, would not take care to hand it down in a correct form to others; and, although incorrect, mutilated, and interpolated copies, might, in some instances, be made by other persons, it does not seem likely that these would prevail to such an extent, as to prevent the true record from maintaining its ground. Such dishonest copies would hardly be made at all, till considerable interest had been manifested in the revelation; and then any variations from the correct copies would scarcely pass without challenge, and correction.

It appears then, that, as the ordinary mode of recording, copying, and translating important communications are usually found sufficiently adequate for their several purposes, such methods might be employed with success in regard to a revelation: and it also seems probable that God would not interfere with such methods more than was absolutely necessary for the purpose He had in view. If we suppose that God exercised, throughout the whole process of transmission, that controlling power to which reference has been made; then there would be a correct record in each age. That God should exercise that power to such an extent as to prevent every possibility of error, in the transmission of the record, or of mistake as to its meaning in the minds of those who read it, would be contrary to the analogy of His dealings with us in other things. We possess faculties, by the due exercise of which we are enabled to arrive at a sufficiently accurate knowledge of those things which are essential to our wellbeing, but we are not, by infallible guidance, preserved from error. If we were, our responsibility would to a great extent cease. All that can be reasonably expected, in the case under consideration, is that the record should be transmitted with such exactness, as that an honest inquirer should be able to ascertain its authenticity, and understand its meaning, so far as God designed that he should know it. We say -- so far as God designed that he should know it, -- because it is quite conceivable that there might be mysteries in a revelation, the meaning of which would not be made clear till the time determined beforehand by God should arrive.

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