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These objections, being sufficiently distinct, will be considered in separate chapters, assigning the present chapter to the first of them.
Justice to the important subject now under consideration, demands a preliminary reference to the educational and systematic prejudices of the Abbé, arising from his views and feelings as a Roman Catholic. It is well known by Protestants, that the highest authorities of the Church of Rome deny the free and unqualified use of the Scriptures to the laity-that the history of that church is in accordance with those authoritiesand that recent facts have afforded melancholy illustrations of the jealousy of the Papal See in reference to the circulation of the Bible, and of the opposition of modern Roman Catholics to the operations of Bible Societies. Protestants must therefore naturally question the competency of the Abbé to regulate their proceedings respecting the distribution of the word of God.
What is the real state of the case? It is no other than this, that a Roman Catholic writer advises Protestants not to circulate the Holy Scriptures in India. He aims at putting the Bible virtually into the Index Expurgatorius, and altogether hiding it from the eyes of the benighted inhabitants of Hindostan. The bare suggestion of so unscriptural a project must be
revolting to all the better feelings and convictions of an enlightened and reflecting Protestant.
The author, being aware of the unfavourable impression his connexion with the Church of Rome is calculated to produce on the minds of Protestants, naturally endeavours to diminish this impression; but probably the reader will think his apology ill suited to further his design, it not being in harmony with matter of fact.
The author's apology is as follows:-" You would perhaps look upon me as unqualified to give an unbiassed opinion on this topic, if, in common with many misinformed Protestants, you entertain the unfounded idea that the reading of the Holy Scriptures is forbidden to the Catholics. This is one of the many calumnies spread against them to render them odious to the other sects. So far from this being the case, the study of the Holy Writ is strongly recommended, and forms a leading feature of education in every seminary. What is required of the Catholics on the subject is, that they shall not presume to interpret the text of the Scriptures in a sense different from that of the church, or give it a meaning according to their own private judgment." (pp. 27-8.)
Here the author ventures to denominate it calumny to insinuate that the reading of the Holy Scriptures is forbidden to the Catholics;
whether or not he be warranted in so saying, let the opinion of the Pope himself determine. Let the Bull against Bible Societies, issued from Rome, June 29th, 1816, by Pope Pius VII. addressed to the Archbishop of Gnezin, Primate of Poland, be cited in evidence, and the following extracts from this document be attended to:
"Health and apostolic benediction. "In our last letter to you we promised very soon to return an answer to your's, in which you have appealed to this Holy See in the name also of the other bishops of Poland respecting what are called Bible Societies, and have earnestly enquired of us what you ought to do in this affair. We have been truly shocked at this most crafty device, by which the very foundations of religion are undermined; and having, because of the great importance of the subject, convened for consultation our venerable brethren the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, we have deliberated, with the utmost care and solicitude, upon what measures, within the compass of our pontifical authority, are proper to be adopted, in order to remedy and abolish this pestilence as far as possible. You have already shown an ardent desire to detect and oppose the impious machinations of these innovators; yet, in conformity with
our office, we again and again exhort you, that whatever you can achieve by power, provide for by counsel, or effect by authority, you will daily execute with the utmost earnestness, placing yourself as a wall for the house of Israel."" The general good imperiously requires us to combine all our means and energies to frustrate the plans which are prepared by its enemies for the destruction of our most holy religion: whence it becomes an episcopal duty, that you first of all expose the wickedness of this nefarious scheme, as you already are doing so admirably to the view of the faithful, and openly publish the same according to the rules prescribed by the Church, with all that erudition and wisdom in which you excel; namely, That Bibles, printed by heretics, are numbered among prohibited books, agreeably to the rules of the Index, (No. II. and III.) for it is evident from experience, that the Holy Scriptures, when published in the vulgar tongue, have, through the temerity of men, produced more harm than benefit. (Rule IV.)”
Here we behold the Pope himself reprehending the publication of the Holy Scriptures in the vulgar tongue, and expressly putting the copies of the Sacred Volume, issued by Protestant Societies, into the list of prohibited books. What becomes of the author's charge of calumny now?
Does it not change sides, and fasten upon him who raised it? But enough on this point.-Let us proceed to the direct merits of the question. The great argument which the Abbé employs in order to support his objection to the principle of circulating the Scriptures in India is, that they have a strong tendency to hurt the feelings and shock the prejudices of the Hindoos, and thereby to injure rather than benefit the Christian cause. He thus states his argument: "The naked text of the Bible, exhibited without a long previous preparation to the Hindoos, must prove detrimental to the Christian religion, and increase their aversion to it, inasmuch as this sacred book contains, in almost every page, accounts which cannot fail deeply to wound their feelings, by openly hurting prejudices which are held most sacred." (p. 28.)
He then proceeds to a specification of particular passages in the Bible, as especially calculated to produce the injurious effect alluded to, adverting to them in the following language.
"What will a well-bred native think, when, in reading over this holy book, he sees that Abraham, after receiving the visit of three angels under a human shape, entertains his guest by causing a calf to be killed, and served to them for their fare? The prejudiced Hindoo will at once judge that both Abraham and his heavenly