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I trust the reader will be of opinion, that the Bible is a book penned with more wisdom, and better adapted to human nature throughout the earth, than the Abbé seems to suppose that the omniscient God dictated the blessed volume with a reference to the millions of India, as well as of England, or of France : that there is no ground for proclaiming God's word with a faultering tongue, or dispersing it abroad with a tremulous hand: that it will not "increase the prejudices of the natives against the Christian religion, and prove in many respects detrimental to it;" but, on the contrary, tend to abate those prejudices, and help forward the Christian cause; and that the saying shall be fulfilled, which was revealed to the Church of God by Isaiah's pen," For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth. shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
The Author's objection to the Indian Versions of the Sacred Scriptures, on the ground of their supposed worthlessness, considered.
WE now proceed to the Abbé's second head of objection against the circulation of the Sacred Scriptures in India, on account of the supposed worthlessness of the existing Indian versions.
His censures are in the following strain:"If one of the many proofs of our holy books being of divine origin be derived from their intrinsical worth, from their noble, inimitable, and majestic simplicity, there is, alas! on the other hand, but too much reason to fear, that the Hindoos will form a directly opposite judgment on the subject, when they behold the ludicrous, vulgar, and almost unintelligible style of the versions at present circulated among them; and that even the most reasonable and best disposed, in beholding our Holy Scriptures under such a contemptible shape, so far from looking upon
them as the word of God, will, on the contrary, be strongly impelled to consider them as forgeries of some obscure, ignorant, and illiterate individual, and of course a downright imposture."(p. 210.) This censure is strong, but it is for consideration whether it be deserved.
First of all, an important inquiry presents itself. Is the author possessed of sufficient knowledge of the subject to warrant his thus sitting in judgment upon the various versions of the Sacred Scriptures made in India? In our prosecution of this inquiry, let it be particularly noted, that the Abbé has tacitly, if not explicitly, condemned all the Indian versions of the Sacred Scriptures without reserve. We do not read throughout his book, so far as I have been able to discover, any exception in favour of any one of the versions, or of any part of any one of them. The question necessarily presents itself-Does he possess a sufficient knowledge of these various versions, to justify him in thus filling the censor's chair? I answer the question by saying-No, he does not possess it; for of the large majority of versions which he thus condemns, we are by himself warranted to affirm that he never read them, and is incapable of reading them, for he knows not the languages into which they are translated.
There must be a great deal of delusion hovering over the mind of that individual, who sup
poses that, because the Abbé has been many years in India, he is therefore competent to give an opinion respecting all the versions which have been made, or are making, in Hindostan. If an Englishman had lived many years in France, when he came back to England would any one think of saying,-Sir, you are just returned from the Continent; do tell me whether the Russian version of the Scriptures printing at St. Petersburg, and the Danish version printing at Copenhagen, and the Swedish version printing at Stockholm, are good versions or not: on the contrary, if he who had resided in France were to offer his opinion, it would be received with doubt and hesitation, and many preliminary questions would be asked, such as,-Do you know the Russian, Danish, and Swedish languages? What reputation have you for the extent of your skill in these several tongues? and, above all, have you actually read the versions in question?
Now India is like the Continent of Europe, with a yet greater multitude of languages and alphabetical characters; and though here and there, an illustrious scholar, like Sir William Jones or Dr. Carey, may master many of them, yet this is an achievement which falls to the lot of but few, and has not, unless I am greatly mistaken, fallen to the lot of the Abbé Dubois. Had he been the great oriental scholar qualified to
justify the high judicial importance he assumes, a far different verification of his sentence would, I apprehend, have been appended to his book, than the solitary first chapter of the Canarese version of Genesis, to which chapter I shall have occasion again to refer.
The question, whether the author were intimately acquainted with the versions he condemns, may be determined from his own statements. "Since writing these pages," he says, "I have learned, with some surprise, "that the Missionaries at Serampore have surpassed the most sanguine expectations of the public, by translating the Scriptures, within the short period of nine or ten years, into no less than twenty-four Asiatic languages. This brilliant success has not in the least dazzled me, nor altered my opinion, or diminished my scepticism, on the entire inadequacy of such means to enlighten the pagans, and gain them over to Christianity; and I would not certainly dare to warrant, that these twenty spurious versions, with some of which I am acquainted, will, after the lapse of the same number of years, have operated the conversion of twenty-four pagans," &c.-(p. 37.)
It thus appears, from the author's own acknowledgment, that he condemns the majority of the Indian versions without being acquainted with them.