« PrécédentContinuer »
been formed, was that which they derived from the wisdom and efficacy with which it appears to have been constituted. On one feature in its organization, more especially, I must be permitted to express somewhat more in detail, the approbation of our Committee, and the grounds on which that approbation is founded.
"From the commencement of the British and Foreign Bible Society's connexion with India, it has been the object of its Committee to encourage the translation of the Holy Scriptures into the vernacular dialects of the country; and in the prosecution of that object they have expended very liberal sums, and have had the pleasure to witness the good effects of their encouragements, in the appearance of numerous versions, and in the engagements on the part of different translators to add still further to their number. While, however, the Committee rejoiced in these fruits of that zeal, and that industry, which they had exerted themselves so greatly to promote, they could not but feel an anxious desire to see such a tribunal established as might bring these, in many respects, hasty productions, to the test of a sober and impartial criticism, and thereby ensure to the natives of India such versions into their several vernacular dialects, as would enable them to apprehend the truth, and appreciate the majesty of divine revelation. In comprehending
within your plan a committee of revision, you have taken a great step towards forming the desired tribunal; and should the auxiliary societies at the other presidencies be induced to adopt the same measure, and such a correspondence of the several committees be established, as shall secure an unity of operation among them all, nothing would then be wanting to satisfy the most scrupulous critic, and the most conscientious believer, as to the purity and fidelity of the translations encouraged and circulated by the British and Foreign Bible Society, through its auxiliaries in British India. I trust I shall not be considered, in any thing I have said, as depreciating the services of those great and good men, who with so much honour to themselves, and so much advantage to Christianity, have been breaking up the ground in this hitherto uncultivated field. They have prepared the way, by their example, for the declaration of our Lord and Master being fulfilled in those who shall come after them. Others have laboured, ye are entered into their labours.' In so doing, if they should have done no more, they will have deserved to be held in grateful estimation by the Christian church to the latest generation.'
"Your Committee are persuaded, that the sentiments of the Society here, will be in unison with those of the Committee at home on this
interesting point: indeed, they took it into consideration at their last quarterly meeting, when the following resolution was entered on their proceedings:
"In reference to the peculiar feature of the Madras Institution, the appointment of a committee for translations, it was unanimously resolved that measures be taken for the organization of a similar arrangement, if possible, for this Society.' It was felt, that nothing would tend more greatly to secure the confidence of the public, and to assist the Committee in the due discharge of their important labours, than the establishing of an efficient body, for the examination of such versions of the Holy Scriptures as may be submitted to the Society. They have the satisfaction to add, that having communicated the idea to several gentlemen highly competent to assist, the readiness with which the proposal was met was such as cannot allow them to anticipate any difficulty to the measure, which will therefore, no doubt, engage the earliest attention of the new Committee."
By the preceding extract it will appear, that the eyes of the Parent Society at home, as well as of the Auxiliary Societies abroad, are all fixed upon the one great point of using every possible means to render the Indian translations of the Bible accurate representations of the original text.
The Mission College, established by the late Lord Bishop of Calcutta, in the neighbourhood of that metropolis, may be expected to render very considerable aid towards the accomplishment of the important design. That learned and zealous prelate, in laying down the plan of the Institution, has particularly specified the translations of the Sacred Scriptures into the languages of Hindostan, as one principal object which the College would embrace. "In the third place," Dr. Middleton states, "I would make the Mission College subservient to the purpose of translations. Much has been done, or attempted in this way; but by no means, as I have reason to believe, so much and so well, as to make this department of missionary labour superfluous or unimportant. We still want versions, which, instead of being the work of one or two individuals, should be the joint productions of several, taking their allotted portions of Scripture, submitting their tasks to approved examiners, and sending the whole into the world under the sanction of authority."
This intimation is greatly calculated to strengthen the expectation of the Christian public, that in due time the Indian translations of the Holy Scriptures will attain a sufficient degree of accuracy and maturity, to constitute them standard versions of the Sacred Volume.
There is now to be noticed a second principle maintained by the Abbé, of so strange as well as erroneous a nature, that if it were not gravely avowed, the reader would probably suppose him to be in jest. "A translation of the Holy Scriptures," says the Abbé, " in order to awaken the curiosity, and fix the attention of the learned Hindoo, at least as a literary production, ought to be on a level with the Indian performances of the same kind among them, and be composed in fine poetry, a flowery style, and a high stream of eloquence, this being universally the mode in which all Indian performances of any worth are written." (p. 41.)
The reader will judge whether the Abbe's censure, founded upon such a such a principle of translation, is not in effect a praise instead of a discredit to the versions under consideration.
I anticipate that now my own opinion of the Indian versions of the Sacred Scriptures may be demanded; and I shall be free, as far as my competency extends, to give it. My testimony must, however, be confined to the versions in the Bengalee language; for, except in a very slender degree, I am not acquainted with any other of the Indian dialects.
There exist two versions of the New Testament in Bengalee; one by Dr. Carey, and the other by the late Mr. Ellerton, of Malda, both of