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We will now prosecute our inquiries into the conduct of the Bible Society, by the light afforded us by Mr. Powys, to whose mild and tranquil persuasions we cheerfully revert, from the dark and narrow bigotry of Mr. Poynder; and next let us hear him on the practice of female collectors.
With respect to the Female Bible Associations, let the principle thus recognised and acted on be fairly considered on scriptural grounds. Let us, in the first place, recollect that the “woman” was the first “ in the transgression." (1 Tim. ii. 14.) And is it not most natural and becoming, on that account, that woman should take an active part in administering that effectual remedy which the Bible alone contains for all the dreadful consequences of that transgression? Let us consider also that the promised Saviour of the world was to be “the seed of the woman,” and was accordingly “made of a woman." (Gen. iii. 15. Gal. iv. 4.) What a distinguished honour has thus been conferred on the female sex! And how can woman better prove her sense of such an honour, than by taking a part in circulating that divine revelation which announces to all people a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord ? (Luke ii. 10, 11.) Let us call to mind that females were foremost in “ministering to Christ of their substance” (Luke viii. 3) during his life on earth; that their tender sympathies were peculiarly called forth, during his last sufferings and crucifixion, (Luke xxiii. 27; John xix. 25); and that some of that sex were first at the sepulchre on the morning of his resurrection, (Matt. xxviii. I, &c.) How many benevolent and useful offices did Christian females fulfil as succourers of the apostles," as "helpers in Christ,” as “ servants of churches," as “ fellowlabourers in the Gospel!”. (Acts xviii. 26; Rom. xvi. 1–13; Phil. iv. 3.) Is there then any just ground to suppose that the state of the church and of the world is so entirely changed, that Christian females are incapable of similar offices now? Is there any sufficient cause why they should be excluded from such“ labours of love” in our days? Surely the providence of God has endued the female sex with an influence peculiar to itself; and how can that influence be better exerted than in works of Christian benevolence?—Pp. 33, 34.
To us we confess it is impossible to read without a smile this imposing array of scriptural authorities, all so entirely misplaced. We beg to add Tit. ii. 5, wherein the women are instructed to be “ discreet," and " keepers at home,” " that the Word of God be not blasphemed."
We now come to that part of the proceedings of the Society which consists in distributing the Holy Scriptures, and in promoting their translation into various languages. The extent to which this has been accomplished in twenty-six years is most extraordinary. The number of languages and dialects into which the distribution, printing, or translation of the Scriptures, in whole or in part, has been promoted by the British and Foreign Bible Society, either directly or indirectly, amounts to one hundred and forty-eight, out of which there are sixty-four languages and dialects in which the Scriptures have never been printed before.-Pp. 36, 37.
Yet, as Mr. Powys adds from another source,
The essential importance, however, of this fact, rests on the supposition, that by these translations, the truth of God is really communicated to mankind; or, in other words, that the translations faithfully render the meaning of the originals, so that by reading these books, the nations may be instructed in the knowledge of God as he has revealed himself in Christ Jesus.-P. 37.
ON THE PRINCIPLE OF
In favour of this supposition, however, nothing is said by Mr. Powys, further than that he is satisfied, " by an impartial examination of the means which have been employed by this Society in obtaining those translations which have been adopted by it.” Surely it would not have been too much, in “ an Appeal to the Clergy of the United Church," to have adduced some part of the evidence which has operated so powerfully on his own conviction.
Is Mr. Powys aware that the Society committed the care of their Welsh Bible to a “ Jumper,” whose alterations and interpolations, though exposed by Bishop Cleaver, were yet suffered to circulate, notwithstanding there existed, in Wales and in England, an authorized version of the Scriptures ? that the Irish Bible, in like manner, was superintended by a suspended Methodist preacher? that the French Bible professed on its title-page, to be carefully revised and corrected after the Hebrew and Greek originals, and that when its great
inaccuracy was exposed, the pretence was defended “ GENERAL USAGE ?" that the principal German translation was made by a Roman Catholic, assisted by Protestants, then altered according to the Vulgate, and corrected according to the editor's “own conceit?” The catalogue might be easily extended. If Mr. Powys will be at the pains to read the able letter of Mr. Norris, to which we have before adverted, he will find the details of the above transactions, and many other curious particulars relative to the Society's translations of the Bible. It has been argued, we know, that a bad translation is better than
But the truth of this position must depend on the motives of the translator. The Latin Vulgate, we will grant, is better than none; for whatever interpolations it has undergone, from Papal corruption, it was originally intended for a faithful representation of the sacred text. But we hesitate not to affirm, that a translation like that of the New Testament in use among the Socinians, is much worse than none.
Among Christians it can only do mischief; and is at least as unlikely to improve the heathen as “ the sincere milk of the Word.” The proceedings of the Bible Society do not justify a confidence in their translators or translations.
Mr. Powys's work concludes with episcopal testimonies in favour of the general circulation and perusal of the Scriptures, without note or comment. No doubt abundance of them may be found ; but this is a very different thing from an approval of the Bible Society. Their Society's avowed object is never impugned; all that is said is, that Churchmen have better means of attaining it in the British dominions, and that both there and elsewhere the conduct of the Bible Society is open to exception. Many of Mr. Powys's testimonies, however, are indirect commendations of the Bible Society. It is singular that the
friends of the Society should be so anxious to appeal to episcopal testimony, the weight of which is so immeasurably against them.
But Mr. Powys’s extracts require a little observation. They only reach to the year 1815. Of the testimony of the Bishop of Norwich the Society may make its own use ; and Mr. Powys is surely not aware that Mr. Hodgson, the Dean of Carlisle, and biographer of Bishop Porteus, whose language he has borrowed, afterwards quitted the Society in disgust.
Such is the present state of the Bible Society controversy. We would wish to see it discussed, as an object of so great importance demands, with coolness and temper, and without imputation of motives. While we believe and know that many who support the Bible Society are the attached friends of pure Christianity, and of that Apostolic Church which is its surest safeguard, we know also that many others, equally zealous, equally judicious, equally pious, are as decidedly opposed to it. The Society will never advance its cause with the Church, or with any parties of respectability, by assuming that discountenance of themselves is nothing more or less than a collective term for heartlessness, selfishness, and ignorance. They will never redeem or maintain a character by misrepresenting other societies, or by esoteric constructions of palpable rules. Let the Bible Society adopt its cardinal rule, and pursue it steadily; let it exclude from all co-operation such as are not Christians ; let it pass no invidious laws expressing an opinion on regular and dissenting ministers ; let it circulate abroad, as at home, versions approved in the several Churches ; let its new translations be effected by men of whose scholarship, sobriety, and orthodoxy, there can be no doubt among all Christians who hold the Head : let the Bible Society once do this, and she will be entitled to high praise ; every consistent orthodox Dissenter would then support her; and though the Christian Knowledge Society would still possess a primary claim on Churchmen, yet they might, without impeachment of their consistency, patronize the other Society, while the Church at large would joyfully wish her good luck in the name of the Lord.
ART. II.-The Christian Expositor ; or, Practical Guide to the Study
of the New Testament: intended for the use of general Readers. By the Rev. GeorgE HOLDEN, M.A. London: Rivingtons. 1830. 12mo. Pp. vi. 660. Price 10s. 6d.
ALTHOUGH many expositions of the Bible, of great and deserved celebrity, are happily extant in our language, a commentary sufficiently short to be read by those who have not leisure to consult learned and extensive works, yet sufficiently comprehensive to serve as a guide to the study of the Holy Scriptures, for general readers, is a desideratum : for, valuable as every candid person must allow the
Family Bible" of Dr. D'Oyly and Bishop Mant to be, its bulk and its price necessarily place it beyond the acquisition of very many who would gladly purchase some commentary to aid them in their sacred studies. To supply this deficiency is the object of the present beautifully printed, cheap, and truly valuable work; which, though “ intended for the use of general readers,” comprises so much and such various information, in a condensed form, expressed in neat and perspicuous language, that not only general readers, but also critical students may gladly and profitably avail themselves of Mr. Holden's labours, whose previous biblical works amply attest his competency to the task of annotating on the New Testament. Such is our deliberate opinion, formed after a careful and minute examination of the “ Christian Expositor;" of the plan and execution of which we now proceed to offer some account to our readers.
In the prosecution of his undertaking, the author has given an explanation of every verse, and even of every phrase in the New Testament, which appeared liable to be misunderstood ; first, by a critical examination of the sacred text itself, and then by consulting the most eminent commentators and biblical critics, both British and foreign. Without any parade of sacred philology, he has concisely given the results of his investigations: and the reader, who has recourse to his pages for the interpretation of really difficult passages, will rarely, if ever, be disappointed.
One serious defect of the marginal references which are to be found in many, we might add in most, of our popular family bibles, is their multitude, which is so great as to deter the majority of readers from collating them: and truth requires us to add, that not a few of these have only a slight analogy, while very many have but a verbal coincidence, and still more are totally irrelevant. Parallel texts, however, when judiciously selected, and really parallel, are of great importance
comparing things spiritual with spiritual,” and particularly in elucidating such passages as may at first sight appear obscure or difficult; but ordinary readers can seldom command the time requisite for this study. In the hope of facilitating the profitable perusal of the New Testament, Mr. Holden has undertaken the wearisome labour of examining the vast body of references collected in the margin of our larger bibles : and, so far as we can judge from a careful collation of many of them, we think that he has succeeded in making a judicious selection of such parallel texts as are really illustrative of subjects and phrases, and which reflect light on each other. These are placed in the note upon the verse or clause to which they refer. The parallel passages, also, in the evangelists, besides being generally referred to,
are specified at the commencement of each chapter of St. Matthew; and will enable attentive readers to observe and trace the harmony of the four gospels.
To each book is prefixed an Introduction, containing an account of its author, date, the place where it was written, the subject of which it treats, the persons to whom it was addressed, and such other particulars as it may be proper to bear in mind during the perusal of it. After the numerous volumes which have been written by way of * Introductions to the New Testament,' much of novelty is scarcely to be expected in this portion of Mr. Holden's work: but we should not do him justice if we were to omit directing our readers to the original and truly valuable introduction to, and analysis of, St. Paul's epistle to the Romans, which appears to us as the most comprehensive guide to the study of that important portion of the New Testament which we have ever read. After stating its author, date, design, &c., in illustrating the leading object of this epistle, Mr. H. has collected into one view what the sacred writers teach concerning the nature of justification, the means by which it is obtained, and the time when it takes place. We wish that we had room for the whole of this introduction, but we should mutilate it by extracting parts of it, and therefore can only subjoin the following propositions, in which the author sums up the result of his inquiry into the scripture doctrine of justification, and to them we shall annex his synopsis of the epistle to the Romans.
First: that justification consists in the being accounted just and righteous before God, and in the being admitted by him to the rewards of righteousness. Secondly: that we cannot be justified by performing the deeds of the law. Thirdly: that as we cannot be justified by our own works and deservings, the grace and mercy of God has vouchsafed another means of justification, namely, by faith. Fourthly: that justifying faith is not a bare belief, but such a faith as is lively, or fruitful of good works. Fifthly: that faith is not the cause but the condition of our justification, the merits of Christ being the meritorious or procuring cause of this great blessing. Sixthly: that justification, though begun in this life, cannot be perfected till the final day of judgment.-P.343.
Our theological readers will not fail to observe how clearly and accurately the author has steered between the solifidian notions of some professing Christians and the semi-pelagian notions of others; and, apparently, without intending it, has shewn the entire accordance with scripture of the doctrine of the Anglican church concerning faith and good works, as stated in the eleventh and twelfth articles of her confession of faith. He has also fully shewn, that the hypothesis of a first and of a final salvation, which some late writers seem to have borrowed from Dr. John Taylor's (Arian) Key to the epistle to the Romans, is utterly destitute of foundation.
In the Epistle to the Romans and the Galatians, St. Paul formally treats of the subject of justification, but more at length and more systematically in the