Images de page
PDF
ePub

printed in 1472; and by one of the whole Bible, printed at Cologne, in 1475; at Delft, in 1477; at Gouda, in 1479; and both at Antwerp and Louvain, in 1518.

It is needless to extend these enquiries.

VIII.

I proceed to give some account of the English Catholic versions of the Bible.

1. An English version of the New Testament was printed in 1582, in one volume quarto, by the clergy of the English college, first established at Doway, but then removed to Rheims. Their translation of the Old Testament was published at Doway, (to which town the college had then returned), in two volumes quarto, in the years 1609 and 1610. . - 2. The Rheimish version of the New Testament, but with some variation, both in the text and notes, was reprinted at Doway in 1600. The version of the New Testament was often reprinted. In 1738, it was beautifully printed in London, in one volume folio, and, in the title page, is called the Fifth Edition.

3. An English Roman-catholic translation of the New Testament, with a few (but very few,) notes, was published at Paris in 1719, in one volume octavo. The translator was Doctor Cornelius Nary; the approbation of Doctor John Farely, president of the Irish College at Paris, of Mr. Fogarty, Doctor of Sorbonne, of Mr. Moore, Vicar-General of the titular Roman-catholic Archbishop of Dublin, and of Francis Walsh, a. Roman-catholic Priest at Dublin, are prefixed to it. The translation is said to be respectably executed.

4. In 1730, an English translation of the New Testament, but on the ground-work of the Rheimish and Doway version, was published at Doway, by Dr. Witham, the President of the English College in that town, with many concise and useful notes.

5. In 1749, 1750, a new edition, both of the Old and New

Testament, with some alteration in the text, and much in the notes, was published from this version, by Dr. Challoner, in 5 volumes, 8vo. The New Testament of that edition has been often reprinted; but it is asserted, that the editions subsequent to that of 1749, are incorrect, and that the edition of 1749 is to be preferred to any of them.

It is much to be desired, that we had a good literary history of the English versions of the Bible by the Roman-catholics, and of the controversies to which they have given rise. The account given of them by Mr. Lewis, in his “ History of the Translations of the Holy Bible and New Testament into English,” is very imperfect, and written with an evident prejudice against the Catholic religion.

6. Two editions of the Catholic version of the whole Bible in folio, and one of Dr. Challoner's version of the New Testament in octavo, are now in the press. A stereotype edition also of the latter, in octavo, has lately been published, by the direction of the Roman-catholic Bible Society, under the care of the late Doctor Rigby, a learned and pious Roman-catholic priest.

It is highly probable, that, with more time for the enquiry, and, (I should certainly add,) with more knowledge of the subject, many other instances of the zeal of the Catholic church, to spread the sacred writings, might be collected. But surely those, which I have mentioned, abundantly shew, that in every age it has always been her wish, that the sacred volumes should be circulated, in every country, into which the christian religion has penetrated; and that the charge made against her of withholding the Bible from her flock, has, to say no more, been unmercifully exaggerated. The exaggeration has been carried so far, as to have made it nearly the universal belief of Protestants, that withholding the Bible from the general body is The Rule, and the liberty to read it, The Exception; whereas it is much nearer the truth to say, that the withholding of it is The Exception, and the liberty, The Rule.

IX.

An objection is made to some Harsh Expressions, which occur in the Notes to the Rheimish Version, and in the Notes to Doctor Challoner's edition of that version.

1. With respect to the former, I am far from approving any expression of this nature, which is justly censurable; but when the harsh expressions of the Rheimish annotators are brought forward,--the dungeons too,—the racks, the gibbets, the fires, the confiscations, and the various other modes of persecution, in every hideous form, which the Catholics of those days endured, should not be forgotten. That these should have produced some expressions of bitterness from the writers in quesa tion, cannot be a matter of surprise; if something of the kind had not fallen from them, they would have been more than men. But, perinit me to ask, whether the language of their Protestant adversaries were more courteous ? To ascertain this, I wish my readers to turn to the first and last pages of Doctor Fulke's “ Texts of the New Testament.” In the first page of it, he tells the Rheimish translators, that, “ they had perverted the Bible, by their partial translation, and poisoned it with their heretical and blasphemous annotations ;--that they craftily begged of their favourers in England larger exhibition, upon colour of printing their translation of the Bible.” In the last page he tells them, that “ the words of their prayer were good and godly; but that they proceeded not from a faithful heart, not only their wilful and obstinate maintaining of errors, against the most clear light of truth, with their intolerable licentiousness of lying and slandering the saints of God, did sufficiently declare.”— That, “ though they could speak good words on hypocrisy, yet their heart knew, and their cauterized conscience could not but bear witness, that they dared not abide the tryal of God's judgment, howsoever, (as all wicked offenders did commonly) they appealed to it.”---Are these passages exceeded by any contained in the Rheimish Annotations ? If they are not, permit me to ask, why the Roman-catholics of the present day should be criminated for an alleged intemperance of some of the Rheimish Notes, and the Protestants of the present day not alike liable to crimination for the equal intemperance of the antagonists of the Rheimish Annotators ;”.

2. With respect to Dr. Challoner's Notes, some of them have been pronounced illiberal or uncharitable. I doubt whether any of them, if they were construed in the sense in which the venerable prelate himself understood them, would be found to merit either of these epithets. This, however, cannot be settled, without a minute discussion of each note ; but if any passages, really exceptionable on either of these grounds, can be found in them, it must be allowed that these passages are not numerous. And it must also be allowed, that, even now, Romancatholics are occasionally treated by their Protestant opponents, with expressions of, at least equal asperity. The first sentence of the preface to the work entitled, “ Roman-catholic Claims," (a very recent publication) politely informs us, that “ Misrepresentation, Evasion, and Untruth, are the usual weapons of controversial Popery.”

It is full time that this polemic rudeness should cease. The Roman-catholic Board, by their resolution of the 9th of February, 1813, declared, “ That they decidedly disapproved of every publication, either illiberal in language, or uncharitable in substance ; injurious to the character, or offensive to the just feelings of any of their Christian brethren.” That every denomination of Christians should adopt and act up to this resolution, must be the wish of all who possess real charity, or a real love of truth.-It was a golden observation of St. Francis of Sales, that “a good Christian is never outdone in good manners.”

Better rules cannot be laid down for conducting controversy,

than those suggested by Doctor Hey, the late Norisian Professor at Cambridge. From the first volume of his Lectures, they are thus extracted, but with some additional observations, by the late Mr. Richard Kirwan, in his “ Logick, or an Essay on the Elements, Principles, and different Modes of Reasoning, Part IV. Ch. I. Section 3.: an original and very instructive work.

« First,” says Doctor Hey, “ the terms in which the subject in debate is conceived, should be so clearly explained, as that their precise signification, should be expressly agreed on by both parties. .

- Secondly, all expressions of self-sufficiency should be carefully avoided; he uses such expressions, who calls his own cause, the cause of God, and his own interpretation, the word of God.

« Thirdly, whoever uses personal reflections should be deemed an enemy to truth : they prevent even just reason from being attended to by common men.

“ Fourthly, no one should accuse his adversary of indirect motives.

“ Fifthly, the consequences of any doctrine are not to be charged on those, who hold those doctrines, unless they expressly avow them. If, from any proposition, absurd propositions follow, it is rightly concluded, that the original proposition is false; but it cannot be rightly concluded, that the adversaries maintain those absurd propositions ;—that is, barely a matter of fact.

“Sixthly, it is improper to refer any saying of an adversary to a party; this is done, when it is said, this is downright Popish superstition, Scottish philosophy, Irish blundering, rash Tory principle.” .

“ These rules," says Mr. Kirwan, “have been very seldomi observed in any controversy; the nearest approach to a perfect conformity to them, may be seen in the controversial corre

« PrécédentContinuer »