BIBLE REVISION CONVENTION
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, APRIL 2, 1852;
SHOWING THE NECESSITY OF A
REVISION OF THE ENGLISH SCRIPTURES.
HULL AND BROTHER,
' ■ i
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE. APRIL 2, 1852;
ADD E ESSES
SHOWING THE NECESSITY OF A
REVISION OF THE ENGLISH SCRIPTURES.
HULL AND BROTHER,
P R 0 C E E D1JN (1 S.
First Baptist Church, Memphis, Tenn., >
10 o’clock, A. M., April 2d, 1852. $
In pursuance of resolutions, adopted in Nashville, May loth,
1851, by friends of the revision of the English Scriptures; and
in accordance with the appoin ment of a meeting held in this
city, December 26th, 1851, delegates appeared from the States
of Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, Ala¬
bama, Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania
and New York. <
After prayer by Rev. A. Maclay, D. D, of New York, Rev.
John L. Waller, Chairman of the Provisional Committee, called
the Convention to order, and requested J. II. Branham, of Ten¬
nessee, to act as Secretary.
The Circular, put forth by the Provisional Committee, ex¬
planatory of the objects and designs of the Convention, was
read by the Chairman.
On motion of Ptev. D. E. Burns, of Tennessee: Resolved , That
a committee of three persons be appointed to receive and enroll
the names of the members of the Convention. Rev. D. E,
Burns, Rev. Dr. B. F. Hall and J. IT. Branham, all of Tennes¬
see, were appointed said committee.
On motion of Rev. D. L. Russell, of Missouri,
Resolved, That the Convention be organized by the appointment of a
President, eight Vice Presidents, and four Secretaries.
On motion of Rev. P. S. Gayle, of Tennessee:
Resolved, That a committee of seven persons be appointed to nominate
the officers of the Convention.
Rev. P. S. Gayle, Tenn.; Rev. S. E. Jones, Tenn; Dr. M. W.
Philips, Miss.; Rev. D. P. Henderson, Mo.; Rev. E. Strode,
Tenn.; Rev. Y. R. Pitts, Ky.; and Rev. Robt. T. Anderson,
Ky.; were appointed said committee.
On motion of Rev. President Fanning, of Franklin College,
Term.: Resolved , That a committee of three persons be appoint¬
ed to prepare rules for conducting the deliberations of this Con¬
vention. Rev. T. Fanning, W. P. Bond, Tenn., and Rev. J.
Jameson, Mo., were appointed said committee.
Adjourned to meet at three o'clock. Prayer by Rev. D. L.
Friday Evening, 3 o’clock.
The Convention was called to order by the Chairman. Prayer
by Rev. President Shannon, of Missouri University.
Reports were called for.
The Committee on Nominations reported the following names
for officers, which report was unanimously adopted:
President: Rev. John L. Waller, Ivy.
Vice President: Rev. S. W. Lynd, D. D., Ivy.; John Fin¬
lay, L. L. D., Tenn.; Alex. Campbell, Va.; A. Maclay, D.D., New
York; James Shannon, D. D., Mo.; IT. W. Middleton, Miss.;
T. Fanning, Tenn.; D. L. Russell, Mo.
Secretaries: Revs. W. Carey Crane, Miss.; J. R. Graves,
Tenn.; John Young, Ky.; S. Dupuy, Miss.
The following report was then offered:
The Committee appointed to prepare rules for conducting - the delibera¬
tions of the Convention, beg - leave to report, for that purpose, the rules
of the Senate of the United States, so far as they may be applicable to the
business which may be transacted.
T. FANNING, Chairman.
Adjourned to the Odd Fellows’ ITall, at 71 o’clock. P. M.
Prayer by Rev. Alex. Campbell of Virginia.
Odd Fellows’ Hall, Memphis,
71 o’clock, P. M.
Prayer by Rev. T. Fanning of Tenn.
Rev. James Shannon, President of Missouri University, de¬
livered an erudite and interesting address upon “The Impor¬
tance of procuring a pure English version of the Scriptures,
shown from the position it is to occupy, and the influence which
it is to exert.”
Adjourned to 10 o’clock to-morrow morning,
by Rev. A. Maclay, D. I).. of New York.
Saturday Morning, 10 o’clock.
Convention met. The proceedings of yesterday were read.
On motion of Rev. J. R. Graves:
Resolved, That the Editors and Reporters of the city press are cordially
invited to report the proceedings of this Convention for their respective
The following letter was read, and the proposition therein
made was unanimously agreed to:
Memphis, April 3d, 1852.
To the President and Members of the Bible Convention, noio sitting in this city:
Gentlemen :—Presuming - that the Convention will employ a Stenogra¬
pher to report its proceedings, speeches made, etc., I would respectfully
tender the columns of the Advocate, a weekly sheet, published in this
place, for their publication in extenso, if furnished, by said reporter, with
copy. Respectfully, yours,
F. A. OWE1N, Ed. Advocate.
A letter from the “American Bible Union’' was read. The
delegation therein named, were cordially invited to seats with us.
Rev. Archibald Maclay, D. D., of New York, addressed the
Convention upon “the necessity of a revised version of the
On motion of Rev. D. R. Campbell, President of Georgetown
College, Kyi: Resolved, That a committee of nine persons be
appointed on Order of Business, to report this afternoon. The
following persons were appointed said committee: Revs. D. R.
Campbell, Ky.; S. S. Church, Mo.; P. S. Gayle, Tenm; Dr. B.
F. Hall, Tenm; Rev. S. W. Lynd, Ky.; Dr. M. W. Phillips, Miss.;
Revs. John Young, Ky.; D. L. Russell, Mo.; T. Fanning, Tenn.
Adjourned until 3 o’clock. Prayer by Rev. S. W. Lynd, D.
D., of Kentucky.
3 o’clock, P. M.
Convention met. Prayer by Rev. C. C. Conner, Tenn.
Rev. James Challen, of Cincinnati, delivered an address upon
“the necessity of revision.”
Adjourned to 7 1 o’clock, P. M. Benediction by Rev. W. C.
Crane, of Mississippi.
11 o’clock, P. M.
Convention met. Prayer by Rev. S. L. Helm, of Kentucky,
Ou motion of President T. Fanning, of Tennessee, the order
of exercises for this evening was dispensed with.
On motion of President Jas. Shannon, of Missouri,
Resolved, That the business of each meeting be preceded by an address.
Adjourned until Monday morning at 10 o’clock. Prayer by
Rev. John Young, of Kentucky.
Monday, 10 o’clock, A, M.
Convention met. Prayer by Rev. T. L. Garrett, of Kv.
The proceedings of Saturday were read.
On motion of Rev. I). L. Russell, of Mo.: Ordered , That the
order of proceedings be dispensed with for the introduction of a
On motion of the same: Resolved, That a committee be ap¬
pointed to draft resolutions, to carry out the objects of this Con¬
vention. Said committee consists of Revs. D. L. Russell, Mo.;
D. R. Campbell, Ky.; Jas. Shannon, Mo.; E. Owen, Mo.; Josiah
The delegates from the American Christian Bible Society, an¬
nounced themselves in writing, and were invited to seats, viz:
Revs. A. Campbell, J. Challen, E. A. Smith and John Young.
Rev. W. C. Crane, of Mississippi, then addressed the Conven¬
tion upon the “Necessity of revision, as admitted by eminent
Rev. 0. B. Judd, of New York, addressed the Convention
upon the principles and plans of the “American Bible Union.”
Rev. A. Maclay, D. D.. of Now York, followed upon the same
On motion of Rev. T. Armitage, of New York: Resolved, That
a committee be appointed to examine and report upon the plans
of the American Bible Union, for the revision of the English
Scriptures; what progress they have made towards its accom¬
plishment, and what may be the duty of this Convention in view
of these plans. Said committee consists of Revs. T. Armitage,
N. IT; S. W. Lynd, D. D., Ky.; J. Challen, 0.; D. E. Thomas,
Ohio, and W. C. Crane, Miss.
The Committee on Organization reported a constitution.
Pending a motion for the amendment of the first article.
On motion of W. P. Bond, Escp, of Tennessee, adjourned to
3 o’clock, P. M. Prayer by Rev. T. Armitage, N. Y,
3 o’clock, P. M.
Convention met. Prayer by Rev. Jas. Inglis, of Michigan.
Prof. Asa Drury, of Covington, Ky., offered the following re¬
solution. and supported it in an able address:
Resolved, That the history of revision fully justifies us in making an
effort to procure a faithful and perspicuous version of the English Scrip¬
Resumed the consideration of the constitution. The motion
to insert “Southern” being discussed by W. C. Crane, John L.
Waller, D„ L. Russell and D. R. Campbell, was decided in the
Each article was read and adopted separately, and finally the
Constitution, as a whole, was adopted without dissent.
Whereas, The question of revising the present common English Scrip¬
tures is now fairly entertained, by a large body of friends of pure versions,
in this country and in Great Britain; and whereas this body, in Convention
assembled, believe the version to be susceptible of important improve¬
ments in many particulars, and that duty to God, as well as deference to
the wishes of the numerous people represented here, require an organi¬
zation to be brought into existence, which shall effectually bring the
energies and resources of the friends of the enterprise to bear upon it;
Resolved, That the following Constitution be adopted as a basis of such
Art. I. The Society, under this Constitution, shall be called, The Bible
Art. II. The object of the Society shall be to aid, in conjunction with
the American Bible Union, in procuring a pure version of the English
Art. III. It shall be composed of Annual Contributors, Life Members,
and Life Directors. Annual Contributors of FivE Dollars shall be
Members of the Society. Life Members shall be constituted such by the
payment of Thirty Dollars. Life Directors shall be made such by the
payment of One Hundred Dollars, and, in addition to the rights of
Membership, shall be entitled to seats in the Board, with all the privileges
of Managers, except that of voting. Persons who have already been
made Life Members and Life Directors of the American Bible Union shall
be ex officio Life Members and Life Directors of this Association.
Art. IV. The Association shall hold an annual meeting, for the elec¬
tion of Officers, and for the transaction of business, on the 1st Friday in
Art. V. The Officers shall be a President, two or more Vice Presidents,
a Corresponding Secretary, a Recording Secretary, a Treasurer, and an
Auditor, whose duties shall be such as are usual in other Societies.
Art. YI. The Executive Board shall consist of fifty Managers, of
whom nine shall be an Executive Committee, of which five shall be a
quorum to transact business. The Officers of the Society shall be Mem¬
bers of the Board ex officio. The Managers shall be chosen at each an¬
nual meeting, and shall continue to discharge the duties assio-ned them
until superseded by a new election. They shall have power to fill all
vacancies occurring in the Board, when the Society is not in session.
Art. VII. The Board of Managers shall meet at such times as their
own By-Laws may prescribe, and at each annual meeting they shall fur¬
nish to the Society a full report of their proceedings.
Art. VIII. The Board, or its Executive Committee, shall have power
to employ agents, to take such measures as they may deem necessary,
to make known the character and the claims of the Society, and to
collect funds for its object, as defined in the second Article of'this Con¬
Art. IX. The Constitution may be altered, by the vote of two-thirds
of the members present, at any annual meeting.
13, R. CAMPBELL, Chairman.
M. W. PHILLIPS,
S. W. LYND,
B, F. HALL,
S. S. CHURCH,
D. L. RUSSELL,
On motion of Rev. W. C. Crane, of Mississippi, Resolved, That
a committee of one from each State represented in this Con¬
vention, be appointed to nominate officers. Said committee
consists of Revs. W. C. Crane, Miss.; S. L, Heim, Ky.; E. Owen.
Mo.; E. Strode, Tenn.; J. Lee, Ark.; J. Challen, 0.; W. J. Pet¬
tigrew, Pa.; A. Campbell, Va.; J. W. Jeffries, Ill.; A. Maclay,
N. Y.; W. II. Barksdale, Ala.; J. S. Mather, la,: and J, Inglis.
The committee on resolutions reported in part. The follow¬
ing was adopted, and the remainder ordered to lie on the table:
Resolved, That a financial committee be appointed to raise
the funds necessary for the incidental expenses of the Conven¬
tion. Said committee consists of TL G-. Dent, J. H. Branham.
B. F. Hall, D. E. Burns and T. E. Whitfield, all of Memphis.
On motion of Rev. Jas. Challen, of Ohio: Resolved , That the
Board of the Bible Revision Association be located in Louis¬
ville, Ky., and that the first annual meeting be held there on
Friday, April 1st, 1853,
Adjourned to 1\ o’clock, P. M. Prayer by Rev. Y. R. Pitts.
7o o'clock, P. M.
Convention met. Prayer by Rev. Mr. Trott, Tenn.
Rev. D. R. Campbell, President of Georgetown College, Ky.,
offered the following resolution, and supported it by an able and
Resolved, That the defects of King James’ version justify the present
movement for revising it.
Adjourned to 9 o’clock Tuesday. Prayer by Rev. E. Strode,
Tuesday, 10 o’clock, A. M.
Convention met. Prayer by Rev. J. Jameson.
The minutes of the last meeting were read and confirmed.
The order of the day was, on motion, dispensed with in order
to receive the report of the committee on the plan of the Bible
Union for the revision of the Scriptures, and their connection
with the Convention.
The report was read by Rev. Mr. Armitage, and received
REPORT ON THE BIBLE UNION.
Your Committee, appointed to examine and report upon the plans of
the American Bible Union for the revision of the English Scriptures—rvhat
progress they have made towards its accomplishment, and what may be
the duty of this Convention in view of these plans—ask permission to
present the following as the result of their deliberations:
I. STATEMENT OF THE PLAN.
Your Committee find that the plan of the American Bible Union for
the revision of the English Scriptures, involves the following principles:
1. The version in common use shall be made the basis of revision, and
all unnecessary interference with the established phraseology shall be
avoided ; and only such alterations shall be made as the exact meaning
of the inspired text and the existing state of the language may require.
2. The exact meaning of the inspired text, as that text expressed it to
those who understood the original scriptures at the time they were first
written, must be translated by corresponding - words and phrases, so far
as they can be found, in the vernacular tongue of those for whom the
version is designed, with the least possible obscurity or indefiniteness.
3. The revision of the New Testament shall be made according to the
received Greek text, as recently published by Bagster & Sons.—Octavo
4. Every Greek word or phrase, in the translation of which the phrase¬
ology of the common version is changed, must be carefully examined in
every other place in which it occurs in the New Testament, and the views
of the revisor be given as to its proper translation in each place.
5. Whenever an alteration from that version is made on any authority
additional to that of the revisor, such authority must be cited in the man¬
uscript, either on the same page or in an appendix.
6. As soon as the revision of any one book of the New Testament is
finished, it shall be sent to the Secretary of the Bible Union, or such other
person as shall be designated by the Committee on Versions, in order that
copies may be taken and furnished to the revisors of the other books, to
be returned with their suggestions to the revisor or revisors of that book.
After being re-revised with the aid of these suggestions, a carefully pre¬
pared copy shall be forwarded to the Secretary.
II. MODE OF EXEUTING THIS PLAN.
For the execution of this plan according to these principles and rules,
a special committee, known as the Committee on Versions, has been ap¬
pointed by the Board of the Union, subject entirely to their dictation and
authority. Through this Committee, an extensive correspondence has
been held with the principal scholars in all sections of the United States,
and in Great Britain and other foreign countries. The result of this cor¬
respondence has been the recommendation and approval of the follow¬
ing plan :
1. The whole New Testament to be divided, and apportioned among a
large number of competent scholars of different religious denominations,
acting individually or in companies, in all parts of this country and in
2. When all the different parts assigned to the individuals or compa¬
nies, respectively, shall have been finished, the revisor of each, or the
representative of the company of the revisors of each, shall meet togeth¬
er and go over the whole work conjointly.
3. The manuscript revisions are to be accompanied with the citation of
authorities, embracing the opinions of eminent critics and commentators
for every important variation from the commonly received version. Those
authorities to be published in connection with the first edition of the work,
which may be done without occupying much space, so that the common
reader may have the means of justifying these variations as readily and
satisfactorily as a man of learning.
4. The whole work, thus brought to the highest state of perfection, is
then to be edited and published under the supervision of a competent
scholar or scholars.
III. THE ADVANTAGES OF THIS PLAN.
1. By the employment of a large number of scholars in different sec¬
tions of this country and Great Britain, the several parts of the New Tes¬
tament may be so apportioned as to prevent the book from having a mere
sectional or national reputation, and thus receive for it the most general
2. By the employment of scholars belonging to different religious de¬
nominations, the work will be less liable to the charge of sectarianism.
3. The citations of acknowledged authorities will disarm unjust criti¬
cism, as it must be directed against the authorities rather than the
IV. PROGRESS OF THE WORK.
The American Bible Union are now prepared to consummate arrange¬
ments with the revisors for the execution of the work, and some progress
has already been made towards the employment of competent men. Al¬
though nothing further has been so determined as to enable the Commit¬
tee to speak more definitely on this subject.
In view of the importance of the work and the principles and plan for
its execution as thus developed, your Committee would recommend the
adoption of the following resolution :
Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Convention, that the American
Bible Union has thus far wisely and successfully prosecuted the enterprise
of procuring a pure version of the English Scriptures ; and that we shall
best promote the same object, by organizing an independent association to
co-operate with the Union in this specific work.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
T. AR MIT AGE,
S. W. LYND,
D. E. THOMAS,
W. C. CRANE.
Secretary Crane then read the report of the committee to
nominate officers of the Bible Revision Association:
The committee to nominate officers respectfully reported the following
President —Rev. John L. Waller, Louisville, Ky.
Vice Presidents —Rev. Alex. Campbell, Va.; Wm. Crane, Esq., Md.;
Rev. J. R. Graves, Tenn.; Rev. James Shannon, Mo.; Rev. S. W. Lynd,
Ky.; Rev. W. C. Crane, Miss.; Rev. W. II. Barksdale, Ala.; Rev. George
W. Baines, Texas; Rev. James Challen, Ohio ; Rev. John T. Jones, Ill.;
Rev. J. S. Mather, la.; Rev. T. S. N. King, Ark.; Rev. James Inglis,
Mich.; Rev. Wm. Rowsee, Pa.; Rev. Wm. C. Duncan, S. C.; Rev. C. R.
Hendrickson, N. C.; Rev. John L. Dagg, Ga.
Cor. Secretary —John L. Kirk, Louisville.
Rec. Secretary —David Spalding, Louisville.
Treasurer —Wm. Garnett, Louisville.
Auditor —C. Duffield, Louisville.
Managers —Henry T. Anderson, W. Terry, T. B. Johnson, J. B. Slaugh¬
ter, H. C. Seymour, John M. Delpli, Rev. W. Crawford, Rev. A. W. La
Rue, W. B. Caldwell, M. D., B. N. Crump, Wm. Jarvis, Louisville; Sam’l.
Church, Pa.; Rev. D. S. Burnet, Ohio; C. K. Winston, M. D., Rev. T.
Fanning, Rev. B. F. Hall, Rev. C. C. Conner, Tenn.; Rev. L. H. Jameson,
la.; J. D. Ferguson, La.; Dr. M. W. Phillips, Miss.; Rev. H. W. Middleton,
Miss.; Rev. George Tucker, Miss.; Rev. W. W. Gardner, Ky.; Rev. D. R
Campbell, Ky.; Rev. E. Owen, Mo.; Rev. John Bateman, Ark.; Prof. A
Drury, Ky.; Rev. D. P. Henderson, Mo.; J. W. Jeffries, Ill.; Rev. John 0.
Kane, la.; Rev. D. L. Russell, Mo.; Rev. Wm. Vaughan, Ky.; J. W.
Newland, Louisville; T. S. Bell, M. D., Louisville; Rev. Jeremiah Cell,
la.; John H. Macrse, New Orleans, La,; Rev. James B. Smith, La.; Dr
Cullen Battle, Ala.; Dr. L. Parmely, Ala.; John A. McGill, Littleton
Munday, Elijah Dupree, Rev. L. H. Milliken, Rev. H. B. Hayward, Miss.;
Dr. Wm. Jewell, Mo.; Dr. Robert H. Maclay, Ill.; Brof. J. A. B. Stone,
Mich.; Wm. P. Bond, Tenn.; Rev. E. Strode, Tenn.; Rev. R. L. Cole¬
Your Committee on Finance beg leave to report as follows, viz : They
have received in contributions, one hundred and thirty-four dollars and
thirty-three cents, ($134 33.) Respectfully submitted,
H. G. DENT, Chairman.
Mr. Branham, from the committee on enrollment then read
a corrected roll of the members of the convention as follows:
Rev. John L. Waller,
“ S. W. Lynd, D. D
“ Prof. Asa Drury,
“ D. R. Campbell,
“ R. T. Anderson,
“ J. B. Evans,
“ Y. R, Pitts,
“ S. L. Helm,
“ J. M. Bennet,
“ John Young,
“ E. A. Smith,
“ H. T. Anderson,
“ L. AY. Potter,
“ Mason Owen,
“ J. AY. AValler,
“ T. M. Daniel,
“ T. L. Garrett,
“ AV. P. Clark,'
“ H. R. Puryer,
“ W. F. Spelman,
“ M. F. Harn,
“ G. B. Peck,
“ G. B. AValler,
“ Benj. Tiller,
“ F. M. Pearl,
Messrs. J. L. Kirk,
“ J. T. Yates,
“ P. Johnston,
Rev. D. L. Russell,
“ James Shannon,
“ J. L. Green,
“ John Jameson,
“ D. P. Henderson,
“ S. S. Church,
“ AY. H. Hopson,
“ L. B. AVilkes,
“ E. F. Pittman,
Rev. R. B. Fife,
“ Edw. Owen,
Rev. T. Owen,
“ John Finley,
“ P. S. Gayle,
“ C. C. Conner,
“ Jas. R. Graves,
“ D. E. Burns,
“ B. F. Hall,
“ Peyton Smith,
“ E. Strode,
“ AA 7 . G. Lancaster,
“ Levi C. Roberts,
“ L. II. Bethel,
“ J. L. Cross,
“ W L. Go wen,
“ M. AY. Webber,
“ S. E. Jones,
“ J. J. Trott,
“ E. Collins,
“ A. Applewhite,
“ G. AV. Young,
“ Eli Rainer,
“ Benj. Cooper,
“ AV. S. Perry,
Messrs. John Blackwell
“ M. B. Ryan,
“ F. E. Whitfield,
“ J. D. Smith,
“ J. J. Toon,
“ V, Rhodes,
“ E. C. Crisp,
“ W. H. Poindexter.
“ Alex. Ramsay,
“ W. P. Pond,
“ R. D. Baugh,
“ H. G. Dent,
“ R. S. Thomas,
Rev. J. M. Rutledge,
“ James Bond,
“ AV. F. Still,
“ R. B. Herndon,
“ Joel Jones,
“ J. Morton,
“ A. L. Goff,
“ L. D. Ring,
“ J. H. Branham,
Dr. J. F. Johnson.
Rev. W. J. Pettigrew.
jRev. James Inglis.
Rev. AV. H. Barksdale.
Rev. 0. B. Judd,
“ Thos. Armitage,
“ A. Maclay, D. D.,
Rev. A.lex. Campbell.
Rev. J. W. Jeffries,
“ Elias Hibard,
“ A. R. Kenner.
Rev. C. R. Hendrickson.
Rev. J. H. Mathews,
Rev. L. H. Jameson.
Rev. D. E. Thomas.
“ James Challen,
“ J. J. Sadler.
Rev. A. Morrill,
“ AV. M. Lea,
“ Jno. Bateman.
ev. W. C. Crane, Messrs. R. T. Fowler,
“ B. F. Hallowell, “ E. Morrow,
r. M. W. Philips, “ T. N. Loving,
[essrs. J. Clanton, “ J. M. Yowell,
“ E. Bullington, “ D. K. Boswell,
“ S.W.Montgomery “ R. T. Clanton,
“ W. H. Sparke, “ David S. White.
“ T. B. Middleton,
President Waller then introduced Rev. Mr. Henderson, a
Methodist minister, who addressed the convention in a long ad¬
dress, in which he assailed the designs and objects contemplat¬
ed by the convention.
Adjourned to 3 o’clock, P. M.
3 o’clock, P. M.
Convention met, and was opened with prayer.
Mr. Judd of New York, then took the stand, and made an
Hr. Young moved that a copy of Mr. Henderson’s speech,
delivered during the morning session be requested for publica¬
tion, as additional evidence of the necessity of a new translation
of the Scriptures, and supported it in an address.'
Adjourned to meet at 7i o’clock, P. M.. in 1st Baptist Church.
First Baptist Church, Memphis, >
7o o’clock, P. M. $
Met pursuant to adjournment. Prayer by Rev. R. T. An¬
The convention was addressed by Rev, D, E, Thomas, of
Zanesville, Ohio, in an animated discourse on the necessity of
revising the English Scriptures.
Adjourned to meet to-morrow morning at 9 o’clock, in the
Odd Fellows’ Hall.
Rev. P. H. Roberts, !
•* Lee Compere,
“ H. W. Middleton,
“ Starke Dupuy,
“ Jesse Booth,
“ G. Tucker,
“ J. J. Sledge,
Odd Fellows’ Hall, Memphis,?
Wednesday, 9 o’clock, A, M. ^
Convention met. Prayer by the Rev. Mr. Sadler.
The following resolutions were then offered by the Rev. Mr.
Graves, and agreed to:
Whereas, Considering it as a matter of the first importance, for the
harmony of the Baptist denomination in the South, that thd" exact position
and policy of this association should be clearly understood, that the fears
of many true friends of revision may be dissipated and their co-operation
Resolved, That we are opposed to any movement the tendency of which
may be to injure or conflict with the interests of the existing Boards of the
Southern Baptist Convention; and we therefore advise our Baptist breth¬
ren in the South to direct their funds, intended for the circulation of the
Bible at home, and also, those intended to aid in the circulation of the
scriptures in those foreign fields, occupied by the missionaries of our Foreign
Mission Board, through the Southern Bible Board, located in Nashville,
unless they prefer some other medium, while those funds intended for re¬
vision purposes only, to the treasury of this Association.
Resolved, That the proceedings of this convention be published under
the direction of the Executive Board, at Louisville; and that the various
Speakers, who have prepared addresses for this convention, be requested
to furnish the Secretaries without delay with copies of their addresses.
Resolved, That the thanks of this convention be returned to Maj. Hiram
Ivaine, city editor of the Appeal, for his full and able reports of its pro¬
ceedings; and also to the Express and those other city papers which have
courteously noticed its objects and transactions.
Dr. Lyncl then, in accordance with previous notice, proceeded
in an able address, to show the reasons which demand a faith¬
ful and author,ative revision of the Scriptures, Dr. Lynd pre¬
sented the following resolution which was adopted:
Resolved, That in view of the defects of the common version, it is the
imperative duty of the disciples of Christ to secure a revision.
At the suggestion of the Rev. Mr. Burns, a collection was
taken up to defray the expenses of the convention.
President Shannon offered the following resolution:
Resolved, That it be recommended to the members of this Convention,
and the friends of the cause, to provide copies of the Reports of the Meet¬
ing, as made in the city press.
Rev. Alex. Campbell, of Virginia, then delivered an elaborate
and learned address upon the following resolution, which was
Resolved, That it is a paramount duty of the Christian Church of the
19th centurv, to give to the present age, in our own vernacular, a per¬
spicuous, exact and faithful version of the living oracles of God, as we
find them in the Hebrew and Greek originals of inspired Prophets, Apos¬
tles and Evangelists.
On motion of Rev. D. P. Henderson, of Missouri:
Resolved, That the sincere thanks of this Convention he tendered to the
citizens of Memphis, for the hospitality arid kindness shown to members
of this Convention during their sitting and sojourn in their growing and
Adjourned until 3 o’clock, P. M.
3 o'clock, P. M.
Convention met. Prayer by Rev. C. R. Hendrickson, N. C.
Rev. James Inglis, of Michigan, delivered an eloquent ad¬
dress upon the objects of the convention.
Rev. Archibald Maclay, of New York, explained the history
of Baptist translations, and the course which the Baptists had
Rev. S. J. Henderson, of Memphis, replied.
On motion of Rev, D. L. Russell, of Missouri:
Resolved, That this Convention agree to take 500 copies of its proceed¬
ings, as reported by the “Memphis Appeal.”
Ordered, that the Secretaries revise the publication of said
Adjourned to 71 o’clock, P. M.
7 2 o’clock, P. M.
Convention met. Prayer by Rev. J. W. Evans, of Ky.
Committee on Finance reported. The report was received,
and the committee discharged.
On motion of Rev. W. C. Crane, of Mississippi:
Ordered, That the Finance Committee be instructed to pay over all
moneys, over and above the defrayment of the expenses incurred for the
rent of the hall and the printing of proceedings, to the Treasurer of the
Revision Association, at Louisville, Ky.
Rev. Thomas Armitage, of New York, delivered an address,
able and eloquent, upon the following resolution:
Resolved, That in this effort to procure a pure version of the sacred
Scriptures in the English tongue, we discover a work eminently worthy of
the exalted aspirations of the human mind; and of the vigilant Ete which
has preserved the inspired Text in unadulterated purity unto this day:
and as an efficient agency in accomplishing the holy purposes of the Fath¬
er, in the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom on the earth, such versions
must at once invoke the unqualified approval of the human conscience,
and reflect boundless honor upon the infinite Inspirer himself, by extort¬
ing from universal and individual humanity the undisguised confession,
“thy Word is very pure,” and from every regenerated heart the grateful
response, “therefore thy servant loveth it.”
Oil motion of Rev.. A. Campbell, of Virginia:
Resolved That the thanks of this Convention are due co our hiohlv
esteemed I, evident, Alder J. L. Waller, for the patient, able and dignified
manner m which he has presided over its deliberations. *
. Whereupon the President delivered a brief address, counsel-
rig activity and union in the great and noble cause, for which
the Convention had assembled, and than king the Convention for
the mark or confidence and approbation expressed in the reso¬
Winch the Convention adjourned sine die . Prayer bv
Rev. Archibald Maclay, D, D,, of New York. 7 }
JOHN L. WALLER, President.
Wm, C. Crane,
J. R. Graves,
THE DUTY OF REVISING THE SCRIPTURES.
T»? REV. S. W. LYND, D. D., FRINCIPAL OF THE WESTERN BAPTIST THEO¬
LOGICAL INSTITUTE, COVINGTON, KENTUCKY.
The subject of a revised version of our English Scriptures is worthy of
investigation. This is obvious from the number and character of those
who are arrayed upon its side, and the immense influence for good or evil
which is supposed to be involved in the issue. No subject of greater
magnitude, has ever occupied the attention of the religious world. It
therefore demands a free, full, and public discussion. In very few of our
religious periodicals has a fair field for discussion been allowed. The pro¬
fessed, and, doubtless, with many, the true reason for this course, is the
Inexpediency of the measure.
Those who admit that our common version is not as clear and faithful,
as it ought to be, and as it may be made, propose against revision, the fol¬
lowing objections:—“ The time has not arrived. It will cause division in
he churches. It will shake the faith of Christians. It ought not to he
done but by a union of all evangelical denominations. It will deprive Baptists
of their name. It will be called a sectarian Bible."
All these objections are based upon expediency. Believing, as we do
that it is the imperative duty of Christians to procure and circulate a re¬
vised translation of our English Scciptures, it is of the first importance
that the doctrine of expediency should be thoroughly examined.
What is expediency? When is it applicable? The right answer to these
questions will decide the case, and establish the duty of revision, as im¬
perative upon the people of God.
Expediency is fitness, propriety, suitableness to an end. It is applica¬
ble, in those cases only, where time and mode undesignated, or, not im¬
plied in the nature of the duty, are concerned, in relation to things which
must be done; or, where, without regard to time and mode, things may be
done, or may not be done, at the discretion of the subject.
When a thing must be done, because our duty to God makes it necessa¬
ry, and no particular time or mode is specified, or implied in the nature of
the case, one time may be more proper for the performance of the duty
than another, or one mode may be better adapted to the end than anoth¬
er; but where time and mode are designated, or implied in the nature of
the case, nothing can arrest the performance, in harmony with the speci¬
fied or implied time and mode, but the inability of the subject. The doc¬
trine of expediency cannot apply.
Let us now see how far expediency may be pleaded, as a a ground of
opposition to the revision of our English Scriptures.
We take it for granted, for it has never been disputed by intelligent
Christians, that God has made it the duty of his people, to give his word
to the nations to the extent of their ability. The mode of giving it is im¬
plied in the nature of the case. It must be by translation from the origi¬
nal, into the languages of the nations. It must he perspicuous, and faith¬
ful translation, one that shall, as nearly as possible, convey the mind of
the Holy Spirit, as contained in the original. Neither to the mode itself,
that is, by translation, nor to the character of the work, that is, clearness and
faithfulness in expressing themindof the Spirit ; can the doctrine of expediency
apply. Nothing but inability can excuse from the performance of this duty.
The time when this duty shall be performed is implied in the nature of
the case. If we must give the word of God to the nations, it must be done
at the earliest point of our ability, and the favoring providence of God. If
we have men fully competent to the work, and means to circulate it when
made, no time is to be lost. It cannot be done too soon. If all Christians
will not unite in the work, it must be done by those who are able and wil¬
ling. It is vain for any one to plead the doctrine of expediency, as a
ground of refusal. The duty is imperative, the mode is implied in the na¬
ture of the case, the time for those who can cany out the enterprise has
arrived. They dare not hold back from this duty from fear of results.—
The whole history of modern missionary organizations, and Bible transla¬
tions, justifies the position we have taken. And doubtless, all Christians^
will admit the justness of our reasoning in reference to all new transla¬
This is all that we ask. This much must be admitted. This point
gained, the whole case is gained. Our aim is to show, that it is the im¬
perative duty of Christians to procure and circulate a revised translation
of our English Scriptures. If it be asked, in what -way we apply this
reasoning 1 to a revision of our common version, when its general excel-
lence is acknowledged, we reply, by another question—Is our common ver¬
sion thoroughly clear and faithful; in giving the mind of the Holy Spirit,
as contained in the original Hebrew and Greek?
If this question is answered in the affirmative, then the doctrine of ex¬
pediency, as to revision, is perfectly admissable. But if the question is
answered in the negative, the doctrine of expediency can no more affect
the character of translation, than it can affect translation itself. Whether
a clear and faithful version is fit or proper, cannot be made a question. It
must have these characteristics, or we are recreant to duty, and God is
If then, we are as much bound to give clearly and faithfully, in a trans¬
lation, the mind of the Holy Spirit, as we are to give a translation at all,
it is our duty to see, that, as far as possible, every existing version be pure,
and the English version among others; and the time for doing it is neces¬
sarily implied in the nature of the case. It must be done, at the earliest
point of our ability, and the favoring providence of God.
This is something that must be done. Nothing but inability can be
pleaded as an excuse for not doing it; and, consequently, the doctrine of
expediency vanishes away. Imperative duty requires that where a ver¬
sion is not thoroughly pure, it must be made pure, as early us our ability
will justify, no providence occurring to arrest the work. It appears to us
that there can be but one opinion on this subject. It is as much an im¬
perative duty to make an old version clear and faithful, as it is to make a
new version clear and faithful.
If all Christians will not unite in the work of revision, it must be done
by those who are able and willing. If all will not unite, it must be on one
of two grounds:—First, that the Holy Spirit is clearly and faithfully rep¬
resented in our common version, and that revision, as a matter of taste,
involves nothing more than a question of expediency: or, Secondly, that
the Holy Spirit is not clearly and faithfully represented, and that, on
grounds of expediency, his mind ought not to be dearly and faithfully expressed.
But this is a monstrous doctrine, and when the true state of the case is
perceived, our brethren will be compelled to take the iirst ground, that is,
the perfection of our common version, or abandon their opposition to the
If this mode of reasoning be incorrect, we' cannot perceive it; and, if it
be just our brethren deceive themselves when they offer against revision,
the objections that have been stated, holding at the same time, that our
present English version is not thoroughly clear and faithful. Let this point
be admitted, and all objections to the enterprise of revision vanish. We
maintain that our English version is not as clear and faithful as it can be
made, and ought to be made. This fact has been fully established by the
speakers who have preceded, and it is not our intention to go over this
ground. We would, however, in passing, call special attention to the
opinion of Dr. Adam Clarke, in his commentary on the 12th Chapter of
Second Book of Samuel. He says: “Though I believe our translation to
beby far the best in any language ancient or modem, yet I am satisfied
it stands much in need of revision. Most of the advantages which our
unbelievers have appeared to have over certain passages of Scripture,
have arisen from an inaccurate or false translation of the terms in the
original; and an appeal to this has generally silenced the gainsayers. But
in the time in which our translation was made, Biblical criticism was in
its infancy, if indeed it did exist; and we may rather wonder that we find
things so well, than be surprised that they are no better.”
This is unbiassed testimony. It comes from one who had the highest
respect for our common version, and from whom truth fpreed the confes¬
sion contained in the quotation.
Now we ask, how is the common English reader to silence gainsayers?
While the version stands, which gives rise to infidel objections, infidel ob¬
jections will arise; and the enemies of God will triumph over the mere
English reader. Shall we allow translations thus “inaccurate and false”
to be perpetuated, as a shield to infidelity, and a whirlpool of destruction
to the simple hearted English reader? When it is in our power to alter
this, shall we not do it? Shall we let such awful sin sleep upon our souls?
Has conscience no voice in the Christian world? Shall expediency be
pleaded against a faithful revelation of the mind of the Spirit? Shall
party dogmas refuse to hear God speak? It is almost enough to- make 1 at
good man an infidel.
Imperative duty requires that we should endeavor to secure a pure ver¬
sion of our English scriptures. God demands it of us:—the honor of the
Holy Spirit demands it of us:—the cause of pure religion demands it of
us:—the welfare of all who speak the English language demands it of us.
They have a right to know when they read the Bible, whether they are
readingthe testimony of the Holy Spirit, or the testimony of King James*
or the testimony of a worldly hierarchy.
Is it not then our imperative duty to revise our present version? Here
is something that must be done. We cannot in honor, in virtue of our
allegiance to Jesus Christ, refuse. The earliest point of our ability, and
idie favoring providence of God constitute the time for the performance of
this duty. We are able to do it now. As far as scholarship is concerned,
there is no difficulty. As far as pecuniary supplies are necessary, there
is enough and to spare. The providence of God favors the work. The
action of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and subsequently, the ac¬
tion of the American Bible Society, respecting translations, awakened an
interest in the minds of thousands, to the trite principle upon which the
word of God should be rendered into other languages, and led to the de¬
sire to see the same principle applied to our English version.
For the last 25 years eminent scholars have been engaged in preparing
a pure text, and have, probably, reached a perfection in this department,
that will never be surpassed. The organization of the American Bible
Union grew out of peculiar circumstances which seemed to many, learned
and unlearned, throughout our land, to be demanded. Its friends have
rapidly increased. A noble liberality has been manifested in its behalf.—-
All these are favoring providences.
In view of these facts, what should have been the attitude of every
Christian man? Believing that our present version is not as perspicuous
and faithful as it ought to be, and as it may be made; that the duty of
giving the most pure version that can be procured, is imperative; that the
time is the earliest point of our ability; should not every Christian man
have stood with his loins girt about, in a state of preparation to seize the
earliest moment, to engage in this work? Should .not his heart have
bounded with joy, when simultaneously, as one man, thousands arose,
prepared to enter upon the work, and invited his co-operation? And now
shall he oppose his objection, “the time has not arrived ,” as constituting an
unfavorable providence, and thus shield himself from imperative duty?
What are objections worth based upon expediency? If an improved,
a more pure version of our English Scriptures will tend to unsettle the
faith of Christians, let it be unsettled. It is a faith not worth the profes¬
sion of it. If it will cause divisions in churches, let divisions come. We
can only regret, in this event, that the passions of those opposed are un¬
der no better control by the spirit of piety. If the duty is imperative
upon the part of those who are able and willing to do the work, and they
act simply in the spirit of their duty, the fault of division will not rest
with them. They have invaded no man’s right of opinion. They have
been free to hear both sides of the question. They have pursued the
course marked out by duty with a spirit worthy of imitation. There is no
-element of fanaticism in their movements; no, resolutions causing a dis¬
ruption of the fellowship of believers; no action antagonistic to the peace,
the union, and the happiness of our country. They have a work to do
which must be done, and done, whenever the time for it arrives. That time,
implied in the very nature of the case, has arrived, and we ought to bless
God that the work is progressing.
It has been said that a revision ought not to be effected except by the
union of all evangelical denominations. If this were a subject purely of
taste, the present version being a thoroughly clear and faithful exponent
of the mind of the Spirit in the original Hebrew and Greek, the expedi¬
ency of revision would be admissable, and the objection against making it,
except by the union of Christians, would stand in force. But it is a sub¬
ject involving imperative dxity, and if all will not unite, those who are
able and willing must do the work. Besides the union of all evangelical
denominations in this enterprise is impracticable, if the revision is to be
clear and faithful. This assertion may be thought too strong, but the
proof is before our eyes, bright as the noon-day sun, in the revision, re¬
cently effected by a committee of the American Bible Society. Com¬
pelled to bow to the mandates of sectarianism, they have retained the
word “Easter,” the name of a heathen festival, where the original re¬
quires “Passover,” an institution of divine appointment. We say it with
deep sorrow of heart, that the world has nothing to expect, as regards a
pure version, from this union of different denominations. The Christian
public could not cherish confidence in the faithfulness of men whose union
■compels compromise. There is no difference between the mandates of
a monarch, and the mandates of embodied sectarianism.
The only questions which a godly man ought to ask, are these:-—Is it
our duty to give God’s word to the people, in the most pure version that
can be procured? Is our common version as faithful to the original as it
ought to be? Are we not able to make it more pure? Is there any prov¬
idence that forbids?
Then, if those who are able and willing, secure the services of the most
eminent and independent scholars and Christians to prepare a revision,
and their work when finished, be submitted to a committee of other men
equally competent, in order to a final decision; if no laws are imposed
upon the translator, no directions given how certain words shall be ren¬
dered, no transfer allowed where translation is possible and proper; if the
simple requirement be that the translator shall give the clearest and most
faithful version that can be made; of wbat avail would be the charge of
sectarianism? Except with bigots it would not weigh a feather against
the revised version. Every thing is to be feared from sectarianism in op¬
position to a revision, but nothing from sectarianism in a faithful transla¬
tion. We are not afraid to meet the issue, if the mind of the Holy Spirit
is to be translated from the original Hebrew and Greek into our own lan¬
guage, by competent, independent scholars and truly pious men, of any
denomination. Are any afraid of translation by such men? Let them
hide their heads for shame. Let them never avow that the Bible, as it
came from the hand of God, is the rule of their faith and practice.
It has been charged against us, that our main object in procuring a re-
' vised version, is, that the Greek word baptize may be rendered immerse .—
This is not the true state of the case. We desire that this word may be
translated bv an English word, that will express, according to the current
use of words in our language, the same thing that the Greek word express¬
ed to those to whom it was first delivered. If honest and competent lin¬
guists say “sprinkle,” let it be sprinkle. If they say “pour,” let it be
pour. If they say “immerse,” let it be immerse. But to say “baptize” is
nothing, and worse than nothino-- for even if it meant immerse when first
adopted as a Latin word, as some contend, it has long since lost that spe¬
cific meaning. The word itself conveys no idea to the mind of an En¬
glish reader, except that which he derives from the diversified practice to
which the word is applied.
Some of our Baptist brethren contend, that if “ baptize ” is not retained
we shall lose our name. But we have settled the question of expediency.
It does not apply to the case, and every objection from this source is void.
It is better to lose our name, than to break our allegiance to God.
What objection that has yet been offered can have any force, if this,
as we have shown, is a question in which axpediency has no voice? It is
a question involving imperative duty, in which both time and mode
are implied; and it cuts off every plea for non-performance, except that of
We have briefly referred to the true principles upon which a revised
version should be sought.
1. The most eminent and independent scholars should be engaged to
perform this service.
2. They should be required to make no transfers where translation is
possible and proper; and to give the mind of the Holy Spirit in as clear
and faithful a manner as possible, in all places where our present version
is deficient in these characteristics.
3. That when they have finished the whole, it should be referred to a
competent committee, in connection with the translators, for final decision.
Let these things be done, and ample time be allowed for doing them
well, and let every printed copy bear a preface, showing by whom the
work was accomplished, and the principles upon which the translators pro¬
ceeded; and if it should prove to be decidedly more perspicuous and faith¬
ful than our present version, it will carry with it an influence more power¬
ful than that of antiquity, or of royal authority. It will become the book
of the masses, and will be read by them as they never yet have read the
Bible, while to the humble Christian, who desires to understand his duty,
it will become an increasingly valuable companion, as the yeai - s of his
A glorious work is before us. Every heart should rejoice at the thought
that the w'ord of God will soon be given to the millions that speak our
language, in a version thoroughly clear and faithful.
This is one of those mighty moral movements that shall be felt by the
world to the end of time. The hand of God is in it, and it must prosper.
Generations yet unborn will bless the hour that gave birth to this enter¬
prise. The world’s history will point to it as an era of light and moral
power, to be celebrated by the wise and good, until the earth and the
heavens shall have passed away.
God favoring us, we intend to hare an amended version of the English
Scriptures; and more than this, to put a copy into the hands of every one
that can read the English language. We intend that the whole truth
shall be given, that God’s Spirit shall speak his own sentiments, in lan¬
guage not to he misunderstood.
As Baptists we are willing to have our name and our practices blotted
from the page of history, if God’s word in a pure translation, dooms us
to oblivion. A spirit is abroad among the people, that will try every reli¬
gious system as by tire, and consume everything that will not stand the
test of truth. “Thus saith the Lord'’’ will be the motto of the Christian
world; and primitive love, and zeal, and practice, will bind in one the
hearts of God’s children.
THE NECESSITY OF A NEW VERSION, AND THE MEANS
OF PROCURING IT.
BY JAMES CHALLEN, CINCINNATI, OHIO.
That we need a better translation than the one in common use; one that
will express the mind of the spirit with more perspicuity and force, with
greater accuracy and precision, cannot be successfully denied. In proof
of this position, we refer to the fact that among all the leading parties in
protestant Christendom, attempts have been made at a purer version.—
Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Methodists and Baptists,
have each given their contributions towards this object. Some in afford¬
ing new versions of certain parts of the old Testament, others of the new.
Each have furnished substantial evidence of their conviction that a better
version is needed.
There is scarcely to be found a preacher of any note, of any preten¬
sions to learning, who does not find fault with the common version in his
pulpit exhibitions; attempts at criticism are quite common by every ser-
monizer and lecturer in all the ranks of protestantism, and it must be con¬
fessed that many of them are exceedingly crude, and unlearned; betray¬
ing no little ignorance of the original text; exposing the annotator to the
charges of pedantry and display.
At the same time it must be admitted that much that is useful and just,
I s to be heard on every Lord’s day from those -who have diligently stud¬
ied the scriptures of truth, in the way of Biblical criticism and interpreta¬
tion. Even in the Catholic church, a strong distrust lias been evinced in
regard to the purity and truthfulness of the Latin vulgate, and attempts
have been made, to render it more perfect by a diligent comparison be¬
tween it, and the Greek original. As far back as the days of Jerome,
the old Italic was laid aside by the Latin version, given by this learned
father of the primitive church, out of which the vulgate in the course of
time reached its present authority among the Papists. We have the most
abundant proof from the most adverse parties that a new and better ver¬
sion, than any now extant is not only desirable and demanded, but that
the interests of the true religion would be greatly facilitated by such a
Among the most bigoted and servile of the Catholic party, it is con¬
tended that the Latin vulgate is inspired and of equal authority with the
Greek Scriptures. This prejudice is indulged in to serve a purpose,, and
grows out of that disposition so common, of sacrificing the interests of the
truth to the dogmatism of the party. Is there not some reason to believe,
that the mist and smoke of Babylon has blinded the eyes of certain Prot¬
estants to the defects and imperfections of the common version? Not a few
seem to believe, or at least to act as if King James’ version was inspired,
and consequently infallible, that to touch it with the rod of criticism, is
like laying sacrilegious or unpriestly hands upon the ark of God.
The translators of the common version did not undervalue the labors of
their predecessors, but availed themselves of the helps which they had
furnished; giving them due credit for the truthfulness with which they had
accomplished the work undertaken by them.
“Do we condemn the ancients?” say the translators of the modern ver¬
sion. “In no case; but after the endeavors of them that were before us,
we take the best pains we can in the house of God.” The valuable efforts
of the ancients was their express warrant to do what they could to give a
better version of the scriptures to the people.
Nor did they think that their version would be so perfect as to super¬
sede all future attempts at improvement.
This indeed would have been the height of vanity and self conceit.—
Perhaps not one of the forty seven believed that his work would stand
the test of all coming time, and meet the wants of a future and progres¬
sive age. The different readings introduced by them into the margin—
afford sufficient proof, that the work in their own estimation was not ab¬
solutely perfect. Their marginal readings are often to be preferred to
the text, and afford presumptive evidence of the fact, that the verison it¬
self was the result of compromise.
Why should we adhere, with so much servility, to a work which even in
the judgment of those who made it, was not without its defects, and would
probably need an entire supervision. We are commanded “to call no
man teacher save one.” It looks too much like a surrender of our right
of private judgment, to receive and hold on to the present version, with
all of its manifest errors, when a more correct and perfect one can ba-
Abandonment of reason to resign
Our right of thought—our last and only place
Of refuge; this at least shall still be mine.
Though from our birth the faculty divine
Is chained and tortured, cabin’d, cribb’d, confined,
And bi ed in darkness, lest the truth should shine
Too brightly on the unprepared mind.
It is freely granted that all the versions ancient and modern now known
an earth, substantially agree in all the great facts, events, doctrinal state¬
ments, and persons found in them. That even with the most defective
the way of salvation by the inquirer after truth may be found. Howev¬
er great the diversity of sentiment, and to whatever party the version owes
its origin, a singular harmony exists in all that constitutes the sum and
substance of the sacred records.
But is there no choice between things which possess different degrees
of merit; who would choose to travel over the old foot paths of the Buf¬
falo instead of the McAdamized road of the present age; or choose the
old barge upon which our fathers crept down our western waters; to the
noble steamer which now navigates them? Is there no difference between
the rail car and the Dilligence—the telegraph and the post boy.
Simply to believe does not satisfy the intelligent Christian , he would be-
rich in faith. How is that wealth to be obtained, but by a diligent study
of the oracles of God, with all the helps that the original scriptures afford,
and the most perfect translations that can be obtained.
Who would prize the ore, however rich, as found in the quartz of Cal¬
ifornia or Australia, to the melted and purified gold, into which it is trans¬
lated by the searching appliances of the alchemist?
It accords with the experience of every student of the Bible, that dif¬
ferent versions of the scriptures aid much in a just and comprehensive
view of the truths of revelation.
Let any one read and compare the several versions given in the En¬
glish language, and he will derive incomparably more benefit from it,
than by confining his reading, to any one of them. If in addition to this
he will compare this with the German, the French, the Spanish and the
Welsh versions; and all these with the original records, he will find not
only the sphere of his knowledge greatly amplified, but his faith in the
word of God permanently sealed.
In no way can he more successfully search the scriptures (a word taken
from mining) than the one now recommended. The slight differences ex¬
isting among them will only give greater weight to the original scriptures,
just as the unimportant differences among independent witnesses, only
tend to give greater credibility to their statements, if all they say harmon¬
ize with the facts in the case. But it is of the first consequence that the
best translations should be had, as the errors and imperfections of the in¬
accurate impair the in tegrity of the divine record; weaken the evidence.,
and injure the cause of .Christianity by occasioning distrust in reference to
the truth of its general statements.
The satisfaction which attends the acquisition of knowledge, amply re¬
pays the labor employed in securing it. The more thorough our acquain¬
tance with the, oracles of God, even in matters not immediately connected
wdth our faith and obedience, the greater is our^conception of the symme¬
try of the whole, the more unwavering is our faith, and the stronger our
reasons for a devout and religious life.
Whatever in religion and in nature is the most necessary to our life and
enjoyment lies the nearest to us. But as God has abounded towards us
in the riches of his benevolence, it betrays an unpardonable indolence on
our part to be satisfied with the bare necessities of our common nature,.
and to be indifferent to what would contribute to our comfort and improve¬
Objections to new versions are as old as the fourth century, when Je¬
rome gave a Latin version to supersede the old Italic, or to render it
more conformable to the original Scriptures of the Greek.
Even some, distinguished for their talent and learning, entertained then
fears, and openly expressed them, that the cause of truth and the faith
of Christians would suffer by it.
But this version grew by degrees into favor, and the Italic fell into dis¬
use. The same is true in regard to Wiclif’s Bible, and the many ver¬
sions which appeared, about the era of the Reformation.
And the objections were urged with all their force and violence against
the version, now in use. It is more than probable, that had it not been by
“Law established,” it would not have gotten into general use; but long
since would have been superseded by others, more deserving public favor.
It is fal ehood, not truth that shuns the light. Error is weak and needs
the strong arm of the State to support it. But truth can take care of it¬
self though crushed and persecuted it will rise and stand -erect.
Like the dead bodies that lay in the streets of the Great City, spiritu¬
ally called Sodom and Egypt, to which kindreds and nations refused bur¬
ial the spirit of life shall enter into it, and clothe it with the verdure of
a glorious resurrection, to the discomfiture of its enemies.
Milton said, “though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play
upon the earth, so truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing
and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grap¬
ple, whoever knew truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter.
Her confuting, is the best and surest suppressing.”
And what the immortal poet said of England, may be said with equal
truth of those who are willing to throw off the shackles of a version,
rapidly growing obsolete, for one more faithful to the original and better
adapted to the age.
“Methinks I see (said Milton) in my mind, a noble and puissant nation,
roitsing herself like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible
locks. Methinks I see her as an Eagle, mewing her mighty youth, and
kindling her undazzled eyes, at the full midday beams. Purging and un¬
sealing her long abused right at the fountain itself of heavenly radiance.
While the whole noise of timorous and flocking birds, with those also that love
the twilight, flutter about amazed at what she means.”
To those wdio entertain doubts and fears in reference to the issue, we
would refer them to the history of the past whilst we would commend the
work itself to the care of that Providence, which arms the hand which is
raised in defence of the truth, which has magnified his word above all his
name, and can open up a thousand ways, for the success of an enterprise,
wb'vcb cannot fail to accomplish so much in behalf of the interests of his
cause, and people on the eai'tli.
To those who believe that the work is needed, but entertain doubts in
relation to the time and the persons chosen to accomplish it. I would ask
if the present is not as auspicious as any that can exist. It is one re¬
markable for its general intelligence, and enterprise. Knowledge is run¬
ning to and fro, is daily on the increase. The ancient languages were
never better understood than now. The principles of interpretation are
fully settled. Biblical criticism lias reached a point of perfection, never
until now attained. Our researches into the manners, customs and usages
of the times in which the Bible was written are most ample for the work.
The contributions in every department of sacred literature, for the last
two hundred years by the learned are most abundant. The material for
a new and correct version immeasurably greater, than existed, when the
forty seven gave the common version. The wants of the English world
loudly call for the work, why then should we delay? The origin and ex¬
istence of the American Bible Union is a providential one. Such a socie¬
ty as this never before existed. It is not the outgrowth of a day. It has
not sprung into existence by chance. It is the offspring of him who said
“Let there be light, and light there was.” As God is seen in history, I
see his hand in the several steps, which originated this blessed institution.
It grew out of the missions to the heathen, having its necessity, in the
versions designed for the benighted pagan. It was called for as far back
as the time when the request was made for aid of the American Bible So¬
ciety in the publication of these versions. It was rebuked and opposed
by those who had control of that society, and this originated the Ameri¬
can and Foreign Bible Society which adopted as its chief element and
vital principle, “That the only standard of authority was the original
scriptures of the Hebrew and the Greek, and to these all versions should
conform.” But those who contended for the principle against the views of
the old society, and by whose influence the American and Foreign Bible
Society originated; found themselves associated with men, who neither ap¬
preciated their views, or would assume the responsibility of maintaining
them. After a brief struggle “the union ” was born, a man child from its
nativity, the legitimate offspring of the skies whose object is one and only
one. To give the Bible fully and freely translated, to every nation under
heaven, the English not excepted. As charity begins at home, but does
not stay there; so the society have projected a new and corrected version
of the scriptures for the benefit of the English world, and those speaking
the English tongue.
There is a necessity existing in our day, and among those speaking the
English language for a new version, that does not obtain among any other
people on earth, growing out of the changes continually being made in
the idiom and language spoken and written among us. It is manifest that
among those nations which remain stationary in the arts and sciences both
elegant and useful, but few changes, if any, take place in their language.
Their vocabulary remains the same from year to year.
Thus among the Jews, an isolated people, shut up by the geographical
position of their land, as well as by their religion and laws, and forbidden
to form alliance, or have intercourse with any other people—their lan¬
guage continued unchanged up to the captivity in Babylon.
During seventy years great modifications were effected in their lan¬
guage. The pure speech of the nation was lost—a new nomenclature was
It was found necessary by Ezra the scribe to read the sacred text and
to explain its meaning; by the use of the new terms introduced into their
language in Babylon, or in other words to translate the original scriptures
into the mixed and confused speech the nation had acquired during their
long exile from their own land. Without this expedient the scriptures
would have been locked up in an obsolete language, and the people left in
a state of necessary ignorance of their meaning.
So long as they remained in their own land and their language was kept
pure from the introduction of new and foreign terms, no such necessity
was required, and probably for ages would not have been, at least so long
as they continued a separate people, shut, in and isolated as God designed
they should be, from the surrounding nations.
Their connection afterwards with the Greeks and Romans, and the new
sects formed among them, introduced new terms and changed the mean¬
ing of old ones. It has been so with every other nation similarly situa¬
ted. But among those speaking the English language, whose constitution
-and laws, civil and religious institutions differ from all other people; whose
manners and customs are undergoing’ continual changes; whose advance-
ment in the arts and sciences is so rapid, whose intercourse with foreign¬
ers in peace and war, is so great, whose literature is so wide and vai’ious,
that our language cannot remain stationary, but is ever in endless progres¬
sion, multiplying with the occasion for its use, and thus we have thousands
of words and names of which the Greek and the Romans had none cor¬
responding, and of which our fathers knew nothing, because they were
wholly ignorant of the things, which they are designed to represent. In¬
deed no people have names or words, for things of which they are igno¬
rant. The nomenclature always kept pace with their knowledge and never
It is not only true that foreign words are being introduced among us
continually, but old terms lose their meaning or undergo great changes,
■or become entirely obsolete.
Like the coin of other countries, and the defaced and time-worn coin of
our own, is cast into the mint, and comes out with a new dress and value,
with a different image and superscription. So from the causes assigned
the most remarkable changes have been effected, and are now being ef¬
fected in our common language. These afford good reasons, strong and
o o o ° .
unequivocal, for a new version of the scripturee of truth. Thus what is
true in general in regard to all living languages is particularly so with
regard to our own.
One of the serious difficulties that a translator meets, is the inadequa¬
cy of the words of his own language, to express with perfect accuracy
the ideas found in the original.
The natural philosopher and mathematician, if he finds no words suffi-
cently exact to express his meaning, can easily frame them, and thus hap¬
pily these sciences now possess a language of their own; a language liable
to no ambiguity or variation, because these sciences are conversant with
the properties of matter and its relations. The vocabulary employed is
in harmony with the sciences taught.
But in moral and religious truth it is far different. Who has not felt
how powerless the symbol to express with precision and certainty the infi¬
nite variety of thought and emotion which dw'ells in the soul? Language
is too poor, words too few, the instrument too rude and vulgar to serve
the purposes of the mind; which painfully realizes the difficulty of finding
a proper vehicle to convey its wealth, or to treasure up its abstractions.—
It is even so with the translator of ethical and religious truth from a for¬
eign language to his own.
The obstacles which Lucretius and Cicero met with, in translating the
literature of the Greek into their own tongue was felt at every step. The
etherial conceptions found in their poetry, and the subtle philosophy of
their schools, they had no terms in their own vernacular to express. And
may not this have been among one of the main difficulties which the
translators of the common version encountered; the chief cause of their
failure, in many parts of their work. The English language was then in
its adolescent state. Its vocabulary belonged to the childhood rather than
to mature age of the present day, and not sufficiently copious and exact
to convey with absolute certainty, the mind of the spirit in all of its luxu¬
riance and variety as found in the original scriptures.
No such difficulty now exists, the wealth of our language has increased
in proportion to the necessity for its use and in direct ratio with all other
portions of our intellectual domain. So that now we have a vocabulary
sufficiently large and perfect to afford a translation immeasurably superior
to the one now in use.
And if with the coarse tools in the hands of the forty-seven, a work has
been furnished, which has held its place with so much favor, for so great
a length of time, and which so many are still disposed to retain, with all
its many imperfections; how greatly superior the work, if accomplished
now, by the aid of the finer instruments which time and art has put into
Are not the optician and the surgeon able now to ply their several pro¬
fessions with greater skill than those who lived two hundred years ago ?
And would it not be strange if men could be found who would prefer the
rude instruments then employed to those of modern times, or the skill of
those comparative dark ages to the skill of the present day.
Those who are engaged in this great work are in the true and proper
sense of the term—Orthodox. In every item which constitutes the faith
of Christians,—“The faith once delivered to the saints,” they firmly be¬
lieve, and publicly teach. They adhere to the old land marks of the
Protestant churches, in every thing deemed essential to Christian faith and
None shall excel them in their intelligent conviction of the importance
to be attached to the cardinal principles of the Christian system, as taught
by Christ and his holy Apostles.
Do they believe in the Inspiration of the Scriptures ? So do we. Do
they believe in the miraculous conception of Jesus of Nazareth ? So do
we. Do they belive in the supernatural attestations of his mission, in signs
and wonders and diverse miracles ? So do we. Do they believe in the
Divine and human nature of the Son of God ? So do we. He is the In¬
carnate Word. God manifested in flesh. Do they believe in the doctrine
of the atonement ? So do we. Do they believe in the resurrection of the
dead, and of the Eternal Judgments ? So do we. Do they believe in the
personality, offices and work of the Holy Spirit, in his advocacy of the
claims of Jesus to be the Messiah, and in the great work of regeneration,
adoption and sanctification ? So do we. Do we not then give sufficient
pledge in this our belief, that no pin in the Tabernacle shall be disturbed.
That not even the fringe on the vestments of the High Priest,'shall be pro¬
fanely touched. That the altar, and salver, the shew bread, and the candle¬
stick, and all the sacred furniture of the House of God shall not only re¬
main; but that each shall hold its appropriate place, both in the type as in
the antetype, as the Lord has commanded.
Why then should fears be entertained or suspicions indulged, in regard
to the faithfulnes, with which the work we have undertaken shall be ac¬
I will venture to affirm, that no change will be introduced in the propo¬
sed version, for which authority will not be found, in versions, scholife,
and commentaries even of those who stand, unfortunately the most oppo¬
sed to this great undertaking. We will not appeal to the family of the
Baptists, or those practicing immersion, as the only apostolic baptism to
justify us in the work before us. But to those who adhere to quite a dif¬
ferent system and practice upon an opposite theory.
Even upon the action of immersion, the “Pons asinorum” of the great
movement, and that which forms the chief occasion of hostility to it, we
rely upon the unbroken testimony of the Church, Papal and Protestant,
Eastern and Western, as our authority for it.
The Pedo Baptist world have given us, (shall we say,) their voluntary
and unsuspicious testimony in its behalf. But whatever may be the char¬
acter or merits of this, or any other version—the original Scriptures, of
the Hebrew and the Greek, will always be the standard, and the only stan¬
dard of appeal. These constitute the weights and measures of the sanc¬
tuary, as by Heaven’s Law established. These hold their place in the
Church of God never to be changed, altered or amended. They have
stamped upon them the Sacred and the awful name of the God of Israel,
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We believe that the version now in use, excellent as it is in many re¬
spects, given to us in pure old, rugged Saxon, comes not up to this God
appointed measure. It reaches not to the line. It is deficient in weight,
and needs to be re-cast and purified from the baser metal. And when the
work is completed then will be the proper time to compare, to weigh, and
to apply all the tests which the sanctuary has furnished, and if any inac¬
curacies shall be found, and further adjustments needed, to render the
book perfect, we are pledged to attend to it.
But we need not expect to accomplish this work without a great and
sore opposition. This we anticipate; this already have we encountered;
and we regret to have met with it from many, who, if true to themselves
and to the cause of truth, would now be with us, laboring side by side.
We will not reproach them. May the “Lord give them repentance to the
acknowledgment of the truth.”
The same spirit is now at work which led the quick scented vultures of
of the Papacy to disinter the bones,—say rather the dust of Wicklife in
1428, after he had been dead forty and one years, to burn whatever could
be found of the relic of the old reformer and Bible Translator. After this
petty work of malice was accomplished, his dust was cast into a running
brook, significantly called—the Swift —from which it was conveyed into
the Avon, and from the Avon into the Severn, from the Severn into the
Narrow seas, and thence into tlie Ocean. And thus (says Fuller) the ashes
of Wickliffe, became the emblem of his doctrine now dispersed through
all the world.
LetJ it be remembered that Rome and the spirit of Rome is not changed,
and never will change. God has not given to it “repentance unto life.”
It is his ordination that it shall perish, suddenly and hopelessly, as the
stone in the bottom of the sea. But I will close this address, by a quota¬
tion from a favorite poet.
‘•What a fair world were ours, for verse to paiut,
If power could bid at ease, with self-restraint,
Opinion, bow before the naked sense
Of the Great Vision —faith in Providence,
Merciful over all existence—just
To the least particle of sentient dust,
And fixing by immutable decrees,
Seed time and harvest for his purposes !
Then would he closed, the re-tless obliqup eye,
That looks for evil like a treacherous spy .
Disputes would then relax, like stormy winds
That into breezes sink: impetuous minds
By discipline endeavor to grow meek
As Truth herself,—whom they profess to seek.”
THE NECESSITY OF A NEW VERSION OF THE SCRIPTURES.
CONSIDERED IX T1IE LIGHT OF THE ADMISSIONS OF EMINENT PEDO BAPTISTS.
BY REV. WM. CAREY CRANE, PRESIDENT OP MISSISSIPPI FEMALE COLLEGE,
Mr. President: —It is with unaffected diffidence, that I rise to address
you upon the present occasion. Around me, are fathers in the ministry of
Christ, some of whom have dandled me on their knees in the hours of my
childhood. From them I have been wont to receive instruction, and from
them to take counsel. There are others here, with whom, and against
whose views, I have in other years in my short pilgrimage, thus far pro¬
gressed to its terminus, fleshed my “Jerusalem blade,” in the earnest strife
for the “faith once delivered unto the saints,” We are met now, not as
hostile combattants, not as fathers or sires, hut as peers in parliament,
more august, and more solemn in its object, more important, for good or
ill, to the interests of mankind, than any other parliament, which has ever
deliberated upon the high concerns of nations. It is a parliament, in which
one fundamental principle of true liberty is foremost, and in the ascendant,
“that error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to com¬
bat it.” I cannot therefore repress my misgivings when I rise in such a
presence and for so momentously important an object. If I believed, as
some do, that the words of Scripture were inspired, I would shrink from
the task of addressing you; nay more—I would abandon all association
with this convention, as engaged in a work which mortals durst not touch,
and to which angels alone were competent. Believing, however, that the
truths of the Bible, only, are inspired, I cannot conceive what greater
danger there is to spiritual Christianity, in agitating this great question,
than there is in changing the forms and fashions of human society, as de¬
manded by the increasing wants and improvements of the growing years.
Whatever may be the views I therefore entertain, as to separate and indi¬
vidual points in Biblical criticism as affecting Christian doctrine, I can have
no hesitation in advocating a revision of the Sacred Oracles of Divine Wis¬
dom, especially as it has been assigned me to show that such a revision has
been, admitted as important and absolutely necessary f rom a very early period
after the publication of the present version. I maintain therefore, in the
first place, that new or revised versions of the Scriptures, will be needed, at
those specific pjeriods in the history of language when its organic structure has
undergone radical transformations. The numerous changes which have
passed upon the English language, since the Anglo-Saxon character was
impressed upon England, have made new and revised versions the neces¬
sity of the times. Hence as early as the eighth century, a version, foun¬
ded, it is believed, on the old Latin translations, and not on the original He¬
brew and Greek was made into the Anglo-Saxon language. In 1290, an
English translation of the Bible appeared: the work of an unkown author,
Wicklif’s version appeared in 1380. Tyndale’s in 1526. Coverdale’s in
1535. Rogers’ in 1539. Crpnmer’s in the same year. The Bishop’s Bi¬
ble in 1568. And Kins - James’ version was given to the world with all
the authority of the church of England in 1611. Now, without entering
into a minute history of these respective versions, w r e shall take each succes¬
sive version as an argument in favor of new versions, as demanded by the
changes of phraseology, in a spoken language and the fresher light, which
the study of philology may shed upon the original Hebrew and Greek
Scriptures. It is well said, by a distinguished speaker and writer, now
present, “A living language is continually changing like the fashions and
customs in apparel; words and phrases at one time current and fashiona¬
ble, in the lapse of time become awkward and obsolete.” It is conse¬
quently a wise provision of Divine Providence that has caused the lan¬
guages, which are the sacred repositories of Divine truth to cease to be
spoken, in order that all the ideas which the Spirit of God has made known
to the world, might be preserved in undying Hebrew and Greek charac¬
ter's to the end of time. Thus remarks the same writer from whom I have
quoted, “the meaning of the words used by the sacred penman is fixed
and immutable, which it could not have been, had these languages contin¬
ued to be spoken. But this constant mutation in a living language will
probably render new translations or corrections of old translations neces¬
sary, every two or three hundred years.” A long catalogue of illustrious
names might be adduced to sustain these positions, but every intelligent
mind will come to unerringly correct conclusions upon very slight reflec¬
Second. There are numerous errors and mistakes in the present version,
which do require correction. That the present is in many respects, the most
faithful in general use, will not be doubted; that changes should not be
made except for good reasons; that in making the changes, no liberties
should be taken, which would shake the faith of simple minded Christians,
in the inspired oracles, are positions of undeniable importance. Both Bap¬
tists and Pedo-Baptists, are agreed that there are errors in punctuation,
in particles, phrases, obsolete words, and wrong spelling, which require
attention. The learned philologist. Dr. Edward Robinson, from a com¬
mittee appointed by the'“American Bible Society,” reported, that there
are twenty-four thousand such errors, and the friends of the American Bi¬
ble Union allege that there are twenty-two thousand errors which require
immediate attention. The most glaring of these, are,
1. Such errors in words, as have accrued from the change of meaning.
2. Errors, resulting from a translation of two words of very different
signification, by the same Fnglish erors, thus losing the beauty and force
of the passages in which they occur.
3. Errors, from negligent typography, mis-spelling and mis-transla-
tion. The specification of the particular examples of these classes of
errors is assigned to other hands. It will be my purpose, now to show
that from a very early period, the present Episcopal version, has been
admitted to be imperfect in many respects, by eminent churchmen and
other Pedo-Baptists. I hold in my hand, a work entitled “An Histori¬
cal View of the English Biblical translations; the expediency of revi¬
sing by authority our pi-esent translation; and the means of executing-
such a revision, by William New come, D. D., Bishop of Waterford,
and Member of the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, printed by JohnExshaw,
1792.” Thus, one hundred and eighty one years after the publication of
King James’ version, a Bishop of the very church, by whose authority that
version appeared, publishes a work upon the expediency of revising by
authority our present translation. If it was necessary, important, and ex¬
pedient in the year 1792, it is ten fold more necessary, important and ex¬
pedient in the year of Grace 1852. Shall we hesitate to avow our opinions
and earnestly strive to accomplish so important and holy a work, when
even a British Bishop dared to assail the infallibility of our common ver¬
sion ? I will avail myself of the labors of this learned Bishop, and cite
some authorities whom he has adduced. In Blackwell’s Sacred Classics,
Pref. xv, p. 1731; there is the following language, “Innumerable instances
might be made (in the English Bible) of faulty translations of the divine
original; which either weaken its sense, or debase and tarnish the beauty
of its language,” “A new translation can give no offense to people of
sound judgment and consideration; because every body conversant with
these matters, and unprejudiced, must acknowledge, that there was less oc¬
casion to change the old version into the present, than to change the pres¬
ent into a new one.” “It is with pleasure, and a just veneration to the
memory of our learned and judicious translators, that I acknowledge their
version in the main to be faithfully clear and solid. But no man can be so
superstitiously devoted to them, but must own that a considerable/number
of passages are weakly, and imperfectly, and not a few falsely rendered.
And no wonder; for since their time, there have been great improvements
in the knowledge of antiquity, and advancements in critical learning.”
Waterland, Scripture vindicated, part iii, 64, says: “This I offer with
submission to better judgments if ever a proper time should come for revi¬
sing and correcting our last English translation; which though a very good
one, and upon the whole scarce inferior to any, yet it is undoubtedly ca¬
pable of very great improvements.” Philip Doddridge, a Presbyterian
of unquestioned piety and orthodoxy, says in his preface to “The Family
Expositor,” that he can by no means, repent giving the text in a new ver¬
sion, “as it has given me an opportunity of searching more accurately into-
several beauties of expression which had before escaped me; and of ma¬
king some alterations, which though they may not be very material to the
edification of men’s souls, yet may in some degree do a further honor to
Scripture; raising some of those ornaments which were before depressed;
and sufficiently proving that several objections urged against it were en¬
tirely of an English growth; ends which might yet more abundantly be an¬
swered by a new version of the Old Testament, which has suffered much
more in our translation, as it is natural to suppose it must.”
John Wesley, the highest authority with one of the most numerous
classes of Christians, in the world, declares in the preface to the New Tes¬
tament, page 4, 1754, that “the common English translation is in general,
so far as I can judge, abundantly, the best that I have seen. Yet I do
not say, it is incapable of being, brought in several places nearer to-the
original. Neither will I affirm that the Greek copies, from which the trans¬
lation was made, are always the most correct. And therefore, I shall
take the liberty, as occasion may require, to make here and there, a small
alteration.” Dr. Lewth, the Translator of Isaiah, in a visitation sermon,
preached at Durham 1758, remarks, “To remove the difficulties that dis¬
courage the honest endeavors of the unlearned, and provoke the malicious-
cavils of the half learned; this is the most worthy object that can engage
our attention; the most important end to which our labors in the search
of truth can be directed. And here, I cannot but mention, that nothing,
would more effectually conduce to this end, than the exhibiting of the Holy'
Scriptures themselves to the people in a more advantageous and just
light, by an accurate reyisal of our vulgar translation by public authority;
This hath often been represented; and I hope, will not always be repre¬
sented in vain.”
Matthew Pilkington, in “Remarks upon several passages of Scripture
&c., 1759,” says, “No doubt but that the inprovement of the language
was one of the considerations that induced King James to order a new ver¬
sion to be made, about forty years after that published and made use of in
the time of Queen Elizabeth; the translators whereof appeared so well to
have understood the Scriptures, that little more than the language of it,
was altered by the translators in King James’ time.” It is now about 140
years since that version was made; and will it not be thought, will it not
be found upon examination, that our language hath been more altered,
and received greater improvement, in the last 140 years, than in the 40
years preceding ? And would not, consequently, a greater benefit arise
now, from a new version, upon that account, than could then be expected.”
Nearly one hundred years have elapsed, since Pilkington wrote this sen¬
tence, and has not the argument then adduced, increased in force ten-fold ?
Purver, in the introduction to his translation of the Bible, London, 1764,
says, “It is well known that those called the living languages do alter.—
Hence it is necessary that new translations should be made from one time
or century to another, accommodated to the present use of speaking or
writing.” “Let the preface of King James’ translators—be compared
with Addison’s writings, and see what a difference there is, in a hundred
Dr. Lowth, from whom I have already once quoted, remarks in his Pre¬
liminary Dissertation to Isaiah, ‘‘Whenever it shall be thought proper to
set forth the Holy Scriptures for the public use of our church to better
advantage, than as they appear in the present English translation, the ex¬
pediency of which, grows more and more evident, (every day,) a revision
or correction of that translation may perhaps be more advisable, than to
attempt an entirely new one.”
Green’s preface to Poetical Parts of the Old Testament sets forth that,
“It is now near two hundred years since our present translation of the
Scriptures was made; a space of time much too long to expect any trans¬
lation should continue correct, amidst our continual improvements in knowl¬
edge and Biblical learning.”
Dr. Blayney, in Prel. Dis. to Jeremiah, 1784, observes, “Let the work
of purifying and reforming what is amiss in the present version of our Bi¬
ble, be fairly set about, and with that moderation and soberness of mind,
which the gravity of the subject requires.”
Dr. Geddes’ Prospectus of a Hew Translation of the Bible, 1780, sets
forth “That a new translation of the Bible, particularly of the Old Testa¬
ment, is still wanted, I shall assume a position generally agreed upon.”
Dr. Lymond’s Preface to Observations on the Expediency of revising
the present English Version of the Four Gospels, and the Acts of the
Apostles, 1789, remarks, “Hath not the misrepresentation of one word
driven thousands of well meaning Christians from the Holy Communion ?
For the truth of this melancholy assertion, we may safely appeal to the
masters of families, and to such as are concerned in parochial cures.”—
“The more frequently I reflect upon the important truths of Christianity,
the more ardently I wish to see our version revised by proper authority;
not according to the caprice of licentious interpreters, but expressing the
genuine sense of the sacred writings; not embellished with the false col¬
oring of rhetoric, but, like the original itself, simple and unadorned; in
fine, correct enough to satisfy the learned and the polite; yet plain enough
to convince the lowest orders of mankind.”
Bishop Newcome, page 235, of the work already referred to, happily
observes, “One argument for such a translation” (a corrected English
translation of the scriptures for national use,) is the flux nature of living
languages.” The style of Wicklif’s version, and of Tyndale’s differs very
widely in the course of 148 years; and the English tongue underwent also
a great change between the publication of Tyndale’s Bible and that of
King James’ translators, in the course of 81 years. Since the year 1611,
when the present version first appeared, the cultivation of classical learn¬
ing, a series of eminent writers, and the researches of acute grammarians,
have communicated to our language a great degree of copiousness, of ele¬
gance, of accuracy, and perhaps of stability.” If, therefore, we are con¬
demned, for advocating a revision of the Holy Scriptures, why not con¬
demn Doddridge, Pilkington, Geddes, Newcome, Lowth, Wesley, and a
Lost of others, who insisted upon the inaccuracies of our present version,
and many of whom have earnestly contended for a new translation. And,
if it was necessary sixty-two years ago to publish a book in favor of revising
the Holy Scriptures; have the arguments of that book lost aught of their
weight and importance ?
Third. No valid objection can be urged against a new version, on the score
of the antiquity of the present version. All that has been said about the
dear “Old Family Bible that lay on the stand,” is sheer stuff; for surely,
no sane mind supposes that it is the rags, sheepskins, printer’s ink, and
typical impressions which constitue the value of the Bible; it is the truth
which these convey to the mind, which alone is precious; and, by neces¬
sary consequences, that version which conveys the clearest, most un¬
doubted, and most unclouded truths to the mind, must be- the most pre¬
cious, and far the most valuable for family use. If the same old Bible
could be used by all the generations which might spring from one man’s
loins’, there might be some feeling in this twaddle argument; but inas¬
much as any such pretence is impossible, all that has been said, or can be
said on this score, is but tire “argumentum ad hominem,” an appeal to
vulgar prejudices and animal feelings. This same argument keeps hun¬
dreds and thousands chained to the idolatrous worship of Boodh—threat¬
ening children with the vengeance of the departed ghosts of their ances¬
tors, if they abandon the religion of their fathers, to embrace the truth of
Christianity. It is this same argument, which now encircles its thousands
within the bosom, and under the blinding, corrupting and soul-destroying
influence of the papal apostacy. It is this same argument, which fills the
ranks of the Pedo-Baptist army with young giants of error; which, be¬
cause the father was an Episcopalian, Presbyterian or Methodist, is urged
as a chief reason, why the child should remain in the faith of the parent.
It is the argument of error against truth; of dead formalism against pure
religion; and of lukewarm professions against gospel progress. Had it
always prevailed, there would be now no Christianity. And were it hence¬
forth and universally to prevail, the Bible itself would be a fable, and the
Christian religion, an imposition, and a long night of error, the world’s
last sad prospect. The same short sighted argument wmuld bind us al¬
ways to the follies of antiquity. There would be no additions to science,
no discoveries in philosophy, no ingenious inventions in art; and the world
would be a stagnant pool, for all fooldom, to gaze at. It once made a
laughing stock of the Papacy, when it consigned Galileo to a dungeon,
and abjured the planetary system of the present philosophic world. And,
surely, in this enlightened age, thinking men will not let their tears, which
fall naturally hot and fast over departed ashes, frighten them from their
sober convictions of what is truth, and what God’s word of truth requires at
their hands. Much might be urged, as to the advantages to be derived from
a new version, the abolition of a multitude of commentaries, (continents of
mind, as Robert Hall remarks of John Gill’s,) more than are needed; the
abridgement of sermons, and hence an economy of time for other impor¬
tant services of religion; a strange confidence on the part of simple minded
Christians, in the Bible, and clearer conception of the whole, unmutilated,
unconcealed plan of salvation. As to the objections, to a new version,
they were equally as strong in 1611. as now, and should have no more
weight now, than then. The present state of the world demands a more
faithful expression of GiSd’s revealed will. The interests of civil and reli¬
gious liberty, in this last home of freedom, in the Mississippi Valley, de¬
mand it. Vital spiritual religion, as opposed to formalism demands it, and
obedience, to the commands of God absolutely require it. The men, the
means, the instruments, and the materials, are as abundant and as acces¬
sible, now as they ever will be, and far more abundant, than they ever
have been before. In the name of our insulted and crucified Master, let
us progress with this great work. Let it be committed to faithful hands.
Give them their time, even should it require ten years, to complete the
work, let it be revised, and re-revised, until as far as human intelligence can
discern it shall as nearly reflect the sacred original, as is possible. And
then, pictures, and visions, cannot convey to the mind, the happiness, of
that temporal millenial state, which will be introduced, as a prelude to the
unutterable glory of the celestial Kingdom of God.
Ere I close, I am bound in candor to express my sentiments as to the
position in which this great question is placed, as to practical action. We
are not met to register decrees already drawn up; to vote resolutions pre¬
viously made ready to our hands; to carry out schemes originated for our
adoption; or to ally ourselves with any exciting organization. Represen¬
ting, as we here do, different shades of religious belief, we are still con¬
vened for one great object, the revision of the Sacred Oracles. It is not
the province of this convention to do this work. We wish to set forth its
propriety, and to enlighten the public mind, throughout the South-west,
as to the feasibility of doing what we advocate. We are willing to con¬
tribute money and labor in accomplishing the one specific object of revi¬
sing the Sci'iptures. Bui, occupying as I do, an humble position in the
Southern Baptist Convention which makes me ex officio, a member of all
its boards, I am unwilling, here to take any action, which shall jeopard
any of its great interests. The circulation of the Bible faithfully transla¬
ted, among the heathen, is as important a work, as the circulation of the
same Holy Book at home. And this great work should be kept steadily
in mind, while we aim to do the home word. At a more fitting period of
business transactions, I may say fully, what course we should pursue.—
Let us have but one object before us, the revision alone, of the Scriptures.
Let us promote this object independently, holding ourselves in readiness to
favor the plans and work of others, when these plans and work are fully
presented to us.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROCURING A PURE ENGLISH VER¬
SION OF THE SCRIPTURES.
BY REV. JAMES SHANNON, PRESIDENT OF THE MISSOURI UNIVERSITY.
Friends of a Revised and Corrected Yersionof the English Scriptures:
I feel truly grateful to our kind Father in Heaven, that in his good Pro¬
vidence I have an opportunity of addressing you this day on a most in¬
teresting subject, viz: “The importance of procuring a pure English Ver¬
sion”—of the Scriptures : —“shown from the position it is to occupy, and the
influence it is to exert.”
My theme, thus stated, takes for granted both the importance of such a
Version, and the thrilling fact, that at present we have it not. Else, why
seek after, and labor to procure that which we already possess ?
We are assured by an Apostle, that “all scripture, given by inspiration
of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction
in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished
unto all good works.”
Now, for a single moment, imagine, that this design is consummated in
the universal perfection of the human race—what language, what intellect,
or even what imagination, angelic, or human, could soar to the untrodden
heights of a conception so sublime? The rapture of angels, bursting forth
in hallelujahs of “glory to God in the highest heavens; on earth peace, good
will towards men”—at the contemolation of a single incident in the grand
drama of its development, barely suggests an approximation to a proper
view of the transcendent importance of this subject.
The agency of the Scriptures in turning men “from disobedience to the
wisdom of the just,” and the absolute necessity, that men should be thus
turned, to elevate them to the highest perfection and felicity, of which they
are capable, either on earth, or in Heaven, will be questioned by no per¬
son of ordinary intelligence, who has a proper respect for the teaching of
Christ and his Apostles.
But, if the Scriptures are admitted to have such an agency, it will not be
contended, that they act as a talisman, or an incantatipn; on the contrary, it
will be readily conceded, that they can only operate in the production of this
effect, so far as they are understood, and reduced to practice.
V lien it is affirmed, that the “word of God is living and powerful”—
that “the Scriptures are able to make men wise unto salvation,” it is very
important to know definitely, what is meant by the word of God, or ths>
Scriptures, in this connection.
A moment’s reflection will show, that no such affimration, as the above,
< can be made with truth, either about the mere sounds, called words, spoken
by the Apostles—or the mere written characters, by which those sounds
'were at a subsequent period visibly represented. What we call words,
whether spoken or written, are mere signs, which of themselves have no
meaning, and, consequently no power.
Pronounce in the hearing of an ordinary modern assembly the words,
“Risteusas kai baptistheis sothesetai,” and they will be to the audience as
unmeaning and powerless, as the words, “poiesomenta kaka ina elthe ta
agatha.” And yet, of the sentiment contained in the former, an Ap¬
ostle affirms, that “it is the power of God unto .salvation to every one
that believeth,” whilst of those who hold, and propagate the sentiment
contained in the latter, the same Apostle avers, that “their damnation is
just.” Equally indifferent, equally unmeaning, and barbarous, would any
modern translation of these two propositions, no matter how faithful, be
to those congregations, that were personally addressed by Christ and his
Hence, it is manifest, that whatever power is rightfully ascribed to the
word of God, belongs not to the spoken, or written signs, (which may,
without either impiety, ox profanity, be called a “deo/1 letter,” '} but to the
precise meaning of those signs, the exact sentiment which they are designed
to convey. This sentiment, received with meekness, working by love, puri¬
fying the heart, and overcoming the world, becomes “the engrafted word,
which is able to save the soul.”
Such most obviously is the reasoning of Paul—(in Rom, 10: 18)—where,
in pursuance of the proposition, that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing
by the word of God;” and in order to show that this proposition does
not exclude the heathen from the possibility of salvation, he makes a quota¬
tion from the following language of David in the nineeenth Psalm: “The
Pleavens dec'are the glory of God; and the firmament showeth forth his
handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night show¬
eth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their VOICE
is not HEARD. Their line is gone out into all the earth, and their
WORDS unto the ends of the world.”
It is too obvious to need argument, that the voice thus heard, and the
words thus going forth, are not what we call words, whether spoken, or
written—but that testimony to the existence and perfections of Deity,
which is furnished by His works.
In like manner, Paul elsewhere argues, that sinners everywhere are with¬
out excuse, because the invisible things of Jehovah, being understood by faith
from the creation of the world, are clearly seen in “the things that are made,
even His eternal power and Godhead.” Heb. 11:3. Rom. 1: 20.
From these premises, we are naturally, and indeed necessarily led to the
conclusion, that what the Ploly Spirit predicates about the power of the
truth to convert and save, is predicated not about the mere words, whether
spoken, or written, but about the ideas which those words convey, “that
God exists, and that He is a rewardee of them that diligently seek Him.”
The Spirit tells us emphatically, that it was this proposition, received by faith,
and producing conformity to the will of God, that constituted Enoch’s piety,
and caused his translation. Like faith, and like conformity to the Divine
will, must necessarily, ( semper et ubique ,) always and everywhere, secure
like approbation. For, nothing can be more certain, than that the righteous
Lord loves righteousness, and hates iniquity; and “will withhold NO GOOD
TLIING from them that walk uprightly.” Hence, “in every nation, he that
fears. God, and works righteousness, is accepted of Him.”
If these things be true, we see the manifest importance of diffusing among
all nations the full amount of knowledge, which God has been pleased to
communicate to the human family respecting His existence, perfections, and
moral government; and also respecting tlieir own origin, duty, and destiny,
as accountable moral agents. But it is very evident, that this cannot be done
by sending the Bible even in the very words in which it was written by its
inspired authors. The Hebrew of the Old Testament, and the Greek of the
New, have long since become dead languages, and must be translated in
order to be intelligible to those who are acquainted only with modern tongues.
This, however, is no calamity, nor even a misforlune, since, as we have
already seen, the mere words, whether spoken, or written, constitute at
most, but the mere body, whereas, the sentiment, which they are designed
to convey, constitutes the indwelling spirit of that word, and contains its life-
Hence the exact word and will of God is communicated to any people, then,
and then only, when they are put in possession of the exact ideas originally
communicated by the Holy Spirit, without either increase, or diminution.
This purpose, most obviously, never can be effected by the Bible in an un¬
known tongue,—or, when but partially, imperfectly, and erroneously trans¬
lated. To accomplish this object—or, in other words, to give the Bible
in reality to any people, we aver in the language of the “Bible Union,’’'
that, “The exact meaning of the inspired text, as that text expressed to those
ivho understood the original Scriptures at the time they were first written, mus
be translated by corresponding words and phrases, so far as they can be found,
in the vernacular tongue of those for whom the Version is designed, with the least
possible obscurity or indefiniteness."
To fall short of this, (although there should he no mistranslations, convey¬
ing erroneous, and even mischievous sentiments,) would be, at the very best,
to give men but a part of the Bible, and at the same time to keep back a
part of that word which is “able to save their souls.” Who will dare to esti¬
mate the value of the portion which is thus kept back; or the folly and im¬
piety of deliberately withholding a portion, whilst they fraudulently profess,
Ananias-like, to cast the whole into the Lord’s treasury ? That enlightened
Protestants, who unite in unmitigated condemnation of Catholicism for with¬
holding the word of God from the laity, should thus be guilty ol doing
the very thing which they severely reprehend in others, is indeed passing
strange. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
That any people have the Bible, so far alone as they possess its exact
meaning, communicated in “words easy to. be understood," is taught most.
conclusively and emphatically in the 14th chapter of 1 Corinthians. The
absurdity of pretendiDg to communicate spiritual ideas to men in words
not easy to be understood, Paul illustrates by the similar absurdity of pre¬
tending to play on a musical instrument without making any “distinction
in the sounds.” In such a case, “how shall it be known what is piped or
harped? For, if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare
himself for the battle ?”
So likewise, if a man deliver me a message from Heaven in a foreign lan-
guage, if I know not the language, “I shall be to him that speaks a barba¬
rian; and he that speaks will be a barbarian to me.”
For this cause the Apostle commands, “If any man speak in an unknown
tongue, let it be by two, or at most, by three sentences at a time, and let
one interpret. But, if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the
Church, and let him speak to himself, and to God.”
The express design of this injunction makes it equally applicable in con¬
demnation of every attempt to communicate the will of God to men in an
unknown tongue, or in words of indefinite import, or not easy to be un¬
derstood. Indeed in such a case, there is a most glaring and manifest in¬
consistency between the j^rofession and the practice —the profession of giving
men the revelation of God, and the practice of withholding, meanwhile, a
portion of that revelation, by veiling it in a foreign language, or obscuring
it with words and phrases of hidden or indefinite meaning. How can such
inconsistency be rationally, or even plausibly defended ? It has been the
common misfortune of us all, fellow citizens, to have been born, and edu¬
cated, to some extent, at least, the victims of this gross and indefensible
inconsistency. If we remain so much longer, or, if we willingly suffer our
children, or our neighbors, to remain in this deplorable condition, it will
be, not our misfortune, but our fault.
That the common Version abounds with mistranslations, ungrammatical
expressions, and obsolete words and phrases, which to the common English
reader are wholly unintellioible—no intelligent and candid man, in this en-
ightened age, either doubts, or denies. I regard it, therefore, as wholly un¬
necessary for me, on the present occasion, to occupy much of your time on
this topic. The errors aforesaid, many of them at least, have been so fre¬
quently pointed out by intelligent critics, and are so generally known, and
admitted, by all parties, that I shall barely notice a very few, as a sample of
In the Version aforesaid, James 2: 1, readsthus: “Mv brethren, have
not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect
of persons.” The w'ords are English, it is true;but so far as intelligibility
is concerned, they might as well be Choctaw, or Arabic. If they mean any
thing, it must be, that there is a faith, called here “the faith of our Lord
Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory,” which Christians are forbidden to have.
But this would be manifest nonsense and absurdity.
The proper translation is, “My brethren, hold not the faith of our Lord
Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory in respecting persons.” This makes good
sense, and harmonizes beautifully with the Apostle’s argument. Hold not
your profession of Christianity so unworthily, as would be indicated by
respecting persons. A child can understand this. But the important ques¬
tion arises—Does the original warrant the proposed translation?
It is a well-established principle of Philology, that the only infallible evi¬
dence that a word has a given meaning, is the absolute necessity of that mean¬
ing in a given case to make good sense. This fundamental principle, which
lies at the basis of all correct translation and interpretation, will authorize,
and even require a , translator to give an unusual meaning to a word, where
that meaning is absolutely required by the context.
But it is not necessary for us to resort to this argument, undeniable though
it be, in defense of the proposed translation. Hold, is a well-established
meaning of the Greek verb echo, which is here improperly translated, have.
And, although the latter is its most common and general meaning, there
are several passages, besides the one in question, where it indubitably means
hold. Take the following as examples:
1 Tim. 1: 19. “Holding (Echon) faith, and a good conscience, which some
having put away,concerning faith have made shipwreck.”
1 Tim. 3: 9. “Holding (Echonts) the mystery of the faith in a good con¬
2 Tim. 1: 13. “Hold fast (Eche) the form of sound words, which thou
hast heard of me, in faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus.”
Philemon 17. “If thou count (Echeis, hold, or esteem ) me, therefore, as
a partner, receive him as myself.”
Rev. 1: 16. “And he had, (Echon) held, in his right hand seven stars.”
Taking into view the whole of the foregoing premises, is not the propriety
and the necessity of the proposed translation thus clearly demonstrated? I
speak as to wise men. Judge ye wlmt I say.
Again: In Hebrews 2: 16, the King’s translators have presented Paul to
the world, in the ridiculous attitude of re-stating a certain fact, as a reason for
the existence of the same identical fact, as already stated by him in the two
preceding verses. In effect he is made to say, by a most blundering mis¬
translation, that Jesus took on Him human nature, because He took on Him
human nature. Nor is this even the worst; for the force of a most beautiful,
and even sublime argument is thereby annihilated. Let us see by what mon¬
archical legerdemain this critical exploit has been effected.
The passage, properly translated, reads thus: “For, verily, He did not
talce hold of angels, but He toolc hold of the seed of Abraham.” In the
preceding part of the letter, the Apostle had. quoted various passages from
the Old Testament, proving conclusively, that the divine and human natures
were mysteriously and marvellously united in the person of the Messiah;
that Jesus Christ was not merely addressed by the Divine Father,as the
God, whose throne is forever and ever—the Jehovah, who created the
heavens and the earth—but that He was also the man of whom David
speaks in the eighth Psalm; made a little, (and for a little,) “lower than the
angels, in order to the suffering of death, that He, by the grace of God,
should taste death for every man,”—and who, at the end of His course, was
crowned with glory and honor, and had all things put under His feet.—
This “great mystery of Godliness, God manifest in the flesh/' which from
the first has been to infidel Jews a stumbling block, and to skeptical
Greeks foolishness, the Apostle proceeds to vindicate, as being in most perfect
harmony with right reason, the necessity of the case, and the perfections of
Deity. The very work of salvation which He came to effect, made it necessary
that He should participate in that nature which He designed to save. Had
He come to save fallen angels, it would not have been necessary for Him to
stoop below the angelic nature; but as He came to save lost man, it was ne¬
cessary for Him to be “made a little lowmr than the angels”—to be made a
partaker of flesh and blood, “that, through death, He might destroy him
that had the power of death, that is the Devil; and deliver them, who
through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily
He did not take hold of angels; but He took hold of the seed of Abraham.
Wherefore, it behooved Him in all things to be made like to His brethren,
that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, in things pertaining
to God,to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”
The King’s translators have grossly mistranslated one word, and improp¬
erly supplied several others, of which Paul, in this connection, never dreamed.
Epilambanomai, the word to which I refer, is used in the New Testament
nineteen times in all, and invariably means to take hold of a person, or thing.
I give a single passage as a speci men. Peter, sinking in the stormy sea,
cried, “Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand
and took hold of him.” Mat. 14: 31. The same word, and the same con¬
struction is used in that passage, as in the one under consideration.
It is not allowable in a translator to deviate from the established and
common meaning of a word, or to supply words, which his author has
not used, unless it be manifestly necessary to make good sense. The common
Version, in this instance, violates both of these principles, without any such
necessity—and on the contrary, in defiance of a most obvious necessity of
adhering to the rule for the perfection of the argument.
Multitudes of errors, equally gross, might be quoted from the common
Version, proving conclusively to the unprejudiced, that neither British June/s,
nor their hired servants, are always wiser than other men. But it is
unnecessary, and I forbear. Not merely is it universally admitted among
the intelligent of all parties, that numerous blunders and imperfections exist
in the King’s Version, but this is manifestly nothing more than what, in
the admitted circumstances of the case, might reasonably be expected.—
To prove this let us note a few facts.
1. The translators were fettered by restrictions imposed by King James,
notoriously a weak and unprincipled despot, distinguished much more for
self-conceit, pedantry, and superstition, than for either talents, learning,
2. Since King James’ day, great advances have been made in every depart¬
ment of knowledge, and in none more than in that of Philology, criticism,
3. Christianity itself, is at present incomparably better understood, than it
was in that purblind period, wdien men had done little more than begin to
grope their way out of the Egyptian darkness of mystic Babylon, and the
4. Had it even been possible, as it obviously was not, in such circumstances,
to make a perfect translation—such a translation, then made, would not, and
could not, have prevented the present necessity of revision. In the two cen¬
turies and a half, that have well nigh elapsed since the common Version was
made, our language, as might have been expected, has undergone such
changes, that many words and phrases, then current, and well understood,
are now obsolete, and, to the common reader, wdiolly unintelligible.
I am ready to admit, that the King’s Version is characterized by general
fidelity and perspicuity. Nay, more: I hesitate not to avow my conviction
that all the leading and fundamental truths of Christianity may be prov¬
ed from the worst translation that I have ever seen, much more readily, than
the opposite errors. A drowning man, in the middle of a river, may perad-
venture escape with the fortuitous aid of a floating plank. The possibility
of such an event, however, furnishes no reason, why benevolence should
not promptly man the yawl for his assistance.
If we have not wholly misapprehended Paul and David, the heathen,
that have not a written law, may, by the light of nature, do the things con¬
tained in the law, and thus, not having the law, become a law unto them¬
selves,—in short, may believe, “that God exists, and that He is a rewarder
of them that diligently seek Him.” Under the influence of this belief,
they may fear God, and keep His commandments, and thus be accepted of
Him. But tliis is no reason why enlightened Christian.sympathy should not
with eager haste dispatch the life-boat of the Gospel for their relief and sal¬
vation. So, neither is the truth, that men may get to Heaven by means
of an imperfect translation, any reason why they should not provide them¬
selves with a better, when they have it in their power.
In all the concerns of this life, we readily admit the wisdom of employing
the very best means, that are attainable for the accomplishment of valuable
objects. It is only in religion, that men are sufficiently unwise to inquire,
not what is best, but what will barely do —what is absolutely “ essential to sal¬
vation.” Well has the Master said, “The children of this world are wiser
in their generation than the children of light.”
The importance of procuring a correct English Version of the Scriptures
is proved conclusively to my mind by various considerations, a few of which
I will now briefly state:
1. The admitted agency of the Scriptures in the work of conversion, to
which a brief reference has already been made, is of itself a sufficient reason,
why the most perfect translation of God’s word should be made into every
known language. No well regulated mind can suppose, even for a single
moment, that error can produce the same effects as truth; or that partial , t
erroneous, and distorted views of Christian doctrine can be as efficacious,
as unmutilated and perfect truth in the business of salvation.
If, therefore, we desire, and pray, that “all men may be saved, and come
to the knowledge of the truth,” in order to be consistent, we must, so far as
we are able, give them the pure word of God—“the truth, the whole
truth, and nothing but the truth,” on this important subject. This can
only be done, as we have already shown, by means of faithful translations.
2. The foregoing principles apply with no less force to the work of sanc¬
tification, than to that of conversion. Messiah prayed to ilis Father for
those, who should believe on Him through the word of the Apostles,
that they might be sanctified through the truth. Besides, it is made the
imperative duty of Christians, “as new-born babes (to) desire the sincere
milk of the word, that they may grow thereby.” This injunction would
be unmeaning and absurd, if ignorance or error could be harmless _or could
under any circumstances, do otherwise than retard spiritual growth. With
equal reason might we expect to substitute arsenic for bread in the support of
the physical system.
The command to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord
Jesus Christ”—involves the same principles, and teaches very manifestly
the same lesson, as to the importance of faithful translations of the word of
3. Another argument in favor of giving to all mankind the Bible faith¬
fully translated, without either addition, diminution, or concealment, results
from its obvious tendency to promote Christian union.
Hear the language of the Messiah, in His intercessory prayer to His Fath¬
er shortly before His crucifixion:—“Neither pray I for these alone,” (the
Apostles,) “but for them also, who shall believe on me throuo-h their word,
that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that
they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sene
“If any man love not the Lord Jesus, (says Paul) let him be Anathema
Maranatha.” And who, that feels a single spark of love for the Saviour
can hear Him thus praying to His Father with intense desire, immediately
before His last agony, and not drink deep into His spirit, and with Him
pray and labor for the union of Christians, that the world may be convert¬
ed; especially, since thus alone can the Messiah see the full fruits of “the
travail of His soul, and be satisfied ?”
Should there be one present, who is at all implicated in the moral treason
of giving “aid and comfort ” tc sectarianism, or, in any shape, approbatin')-,
advocating or fomenting the present unhappy divisions among Christians.
I would earnestly implore such a one to contemplate seriously his alarmino-
position of manifest and undeniable hostility to the accomplishment of the
Saviour’s dying prayer. I would invite him also to meditate on the clear
and emphatic language, in which the Holy Spirit portrays his character,
and writes his condemnation : “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them
who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine, which ye have
learned, and avoid them. For they, that are such, serve not our Lord
Jesus Christ, but their ow n appetite; and by good words and fair speeches,
deceive the hearts of the simple.”
If such be their true character, and righteous condemnation, “Oh! rav
soul, come not thou into their secret! Unto their assembly, mine honor,
be not thou united !! ”
It would be nothing short of blasphemy the most atrocious to insinuate,
that Jesus, although He prayed thus to His Father—and thus by His
Spirit condemned divisions among His followers,—nevertheless desired that
His prayer should not he answered, or, that He designedly took such mea¬
sures in organizing the church, prescribing conditions of membership, and
inditing the Hew Testament Scriptures, as to render an answer to His own
prayer impossible. Who will dare to affirm that the Bible, which so
pointedly condemns all sectarian divisions, is itself A sectarian book ?
The affirmation would be most impious and absurd. Hence, as the avow -
■ed design of Heaven’s truth is to unite the children of God in one, and to
prevent all sectarian divisions in His family, the more perfectly that truth is
made to stand out in a translation, the more powerful will be its tendency to
produce Christian union, and thus lead to the conversion of the world.—
Hay, more: Those religionists who refuse to be thus united, placing them¬
selves in an attitude of manifest opposition to the will of God, and the ful¬
fillment of the Saviour’s dying prayer, forfeit thereby all just claim to be
regarded as the children of God.
On this topic I cannot express my sentiments better than in the lan¬
guage of the venerable and beloved Archibald Maclay, D. D., of New
York, at the last anniversary of the “Bible Union.”
“So long as different denominations combine together to make a Version
obscure or ambiguous, in order that all may consistently use it, each explain¬
ing it in a different way to suit their respective views, sectarian divisions
are inevitable. They are provided for in the translation, but not in the word
of God. Defective Versions, I am persuaded, have done more to multi¬
ply and perpetuate sects in the Christian world, than all other causes com¬
bined. Give to all people, in their vernacular tongues, faithful translations
of the inspired truth, unmutilated by man, and as free as possible from error,
and whatever may be the immediate results, it will certainly terminate in the
closer union of believers. In this case, however, we are not to inquire
so much after results, as for what God would have us do. For, this is
one of those great matters, in regard to which we may know the will of
God, and do it, without being able to calculate, by any definite measure the
consequences of our action.” I need hardly say, that the foregoing senti¬
ments receive my most cordial approbation. I consider them creditable
alike to the head and the heart of the beloved disciple of Christ, by whom
they were uttered—one who has been a follower of Jesus for 62 years, and
has deservedly been regarded as a master spirit in the Baptist Israel for near¬
ly half a century. They will call forth a thrilling, heartfelt response from
many hundreds of thousands in these United States, who love the Lord Jesus
Christ and His blessed Gospel, more than they love life, or the attainment
of any personal, or sectarian object.
4. The evil effects of defective Versions do not stop with the indefinite
multiplication and support of sectarian divisions. Such Versions, with their
sectarian adjuncts and consequences, have furnished infidelity with some of its
strongest arguments against the truth of Christianity. The same causes keep
multitudes of believers from making a public profession of the Christian relig¬
ion. And, thus, for all practical purposes, their influence is united with that
of infidelity in opposing the triumphs of the cross, and retarding the time,
when God will give the heathen to His Son for an inheritance, and the
uttermost parts of the earth for His possession.
That faithful Versions have a natural tendency to remove these obstacles,
and thus contiibute to the overthrow of every form of heresy, infidelity, and
a false religion, and to the speedy fulfilment of the Saviour’s intercessory pray¬
er, will hardly be questioned. Who, then, will doubt, or who can rightly
estimate, their pre-eminent importance?
The foregoing are a few of the many arguments, that might be adduced to
show abstractly the importance of faithful Versions of the Scriptures in all
languages — the English included.
There are other considerations, however, and these not few, that tend
directly to establish the pre-eminent value of a faithful English translation.
It seems to me, that every unprejudiced mind must see, even at a single
glance, the egregious inconsistency of advocating the most faithful Versions
for others, and, yet, repudiating them for ourselves; and our children. If
this spirit savor all of righteousness, it would seem to belong to that class
that is described as being “righteous over muck;” for I have yet to learn
in what part of the Bible, or in what chapter of wisdom, piety, or even ben¬
evolence, we are commanded to love ourneighbors better than ourselves.
But we may fairly take higher ground, and argue logically, from various
considerations, as already hinted, that whatever importance attaches to a
faithful translation into any other language, attaches in a still higher degree to
a faithful English version.
It will hardly be denied, that the souls of those who speak the English lan¬
guage are as precious, as a like number of Frenchmen, Spaniards, Choc¬
taws, or Burmese. If this be admitted, then the relative importance of a
faithful Version in our own lano-uage would be in the exact ratio of the
numbers, by whom that language is spoken, multiplied by their present and
prospective power and influence in moulding the destinies of the world.
That the English is advancing with unparalleled rapidity to the dignity of
a universal language, will be readily admitted. Even at the present moment,
it is the vernacular of those whose dominion extends over perhaps 200 mil¬
lions of the human race.
In these United States alone, should our population continue to increase,
as it has done for the last half century, there will be a century hence,
400 millions of inhabitants, all speaking the English language. Add to this
vast number England and her dependencies, girdling the globe from the
rising to the setting sun, controling at present a population of 175 millions,
which will then probably have doubled, or trebled—and you approximate
a position, from which may be obtained a birds-eye view of the vast moral
field, that lies before us, already whitening to the harvest. Were our view
limited exclusively to these hundreds of millions speaking the English lan¬
guage, it woald be difficult to exaggerate the importance of giving them a
faithful Version of the Scriptures in their mother tongue.
But this is not all. It is the manifest destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race to
regenerate the world, by giving to all nations, not merely commerce and civ¬
ilization—art, science, and literature—but beside all, and above all, the
missionary, the Bible, and the religion of our Lord Jesus Christ. How im¬
portant, then, that the missionary, whom we send, be properly instructed; and
that the Bible, which he carries with him be faithfully translated.
Indeed, as we have already seen, what we call the Bible, is the word of
God to any people, so far alone as it is faithfully translated. Shall we, then,
when earth’s teeming millions cry to us for bread, give them a stone? When
they ask for a fish, shall we give them a serpent?
To my mind, it is very obvious, that the direct tendency of a faithful
English Version of the Scriptures will be to impart a better knowledge of
Christianity, and inspire a greater love for Bible reading. To the Corin¬
thians Paul says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ, that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly
joined together in. the same mind, and in the same judgment.”
Give to any community Heaven’s Creed-book, the Bible, faithfully trans¬
lated, in words easy t® be understood, and the divine philosophy, as well
as the reasonableness of the foregoing exhortation, will soon be apparent.
In such circumstances, it will be an easy matter, (I had almost said, a nat¬
ural result,) for those, who love Ghrist, His cause, and people “speaking the
same things," to avoid,or heal divisions, and to be perfectly joined together in
the same mind, and in the same judgment. Thus an extensive revival of
pure and undefiled religion may justly be expected to result from this in¬
crease of Bible knowledge, and Christian love and union.
So was it in the days of Ezra, when he brought the Book of the law- or
the Lord before the congregation, and, from morning- until mid-day, read
therein, distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the
reading.” “And Ezra blessed the Lord, the Great God. And all the
people answered, Amen, Amen, with uplifted hands: and they bowed their
heads, and worshipped the Lord, with their faces to the ground.”
So was it also in the days of Luther, when, by means of his translation
of the Scriptures into the German language, the means of acquiring a cor¬
rect knowledge of the Christian religion were diffused among his country¬
men. Of this celebrated translation, Horne remarks—“ Having originally
been published in detached portions, as these were gradually and succes¬
sively circulated among the people, Luther’s Version produced sudden, and
almost incredible effects; and contributed more than any other cause, to ex¬
tirpate the erroneous principles, and superstitious practices of the Church of
Rome from the minds of a prodigious number of persons. Since that time,
it has been printed times without number; and, as the reformation spread,
it became the basis of several other translations.”
Similar results will no doubt follow a faithful English Version, made
under the auspices of the “Bible Union.” Such a Version can, and, we
would fondly hope, will be made, as will abide the test of the severest criti¬
cism; and will, at no disttnt day, be generally introduced, wherever the
English language is spoken, or understood.
A.s facilities are thus increased for a correct understanding of Christianity,
a corresponding increase of Bible reading, Scriptural knowledge, and per¬
sonal piety, as we have already hinted, may reasonably be anticipated.—
Nor will these effects be confined to the many millions, who speak the Eng¬
The charm of a blind and superstitious veneration for hoary errors being
once dissolved, the minds of Christian missionaries, engaged in the work of
translation, will be left free, to .prove all things, and hold fast those corrections
that are manifestly good. Hence, in making new translations into foreign lan¬
guages, we may reasonably conclude, that they will make free use of
the corrected English Version, at least as a work of reference, and for the
purpose of aiding them to a more thorough understanding of the original
text. In that event, (unless we are greatly deceived in our confident an¬
ticipations with regard to the superior excellence of the Revised Version,) its
corrections, approved, as they will be, by men of candor, learning, and pie¬
ty, will naturally he adopted; and will thus pass into all Versions subse¬
quently made by able and candid men, speaking or even understanding
the English language.
Horne mentions no less than ten different Versions, of which Luther’s was
the bas s. It .is not unreasonable, or visionary, to hope and pray, that a
’Corrected English Version may speedily lead to the introduction of similar
Versions, with all their blissful consequences, into all lands, and among all
Ac no preceding period, did the means of making such a Version exist in
the same degree, as at present in these United States. The Baconian, or
inductive system of philosophising, that has completely revolutionized almost
every department of science and art, during the last half century, has be¬
gun to extend its renovating influences to Lexicography and Translation,
The minds of men, freed from the shackles of Kingcraft and Priestcraft,
of big Popes and little Popes, have been taught to think for themselves-—to, call
-no man Master—to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. By
virtue of intense and independent thinking, they have soared to sublime
elevations of thought and mental power, that would, under other circum¬
stances, have been wholly' unattainable.
Minds thus disciplined are not compelled to rely for their opinions on Au¬
thors and Lexicons; but are capable of becoming, in matters of Science and
Literature, their own Authors; and, in matters of Philology, their own Lex¬
icographers. Such minds alone, deeply imbued, ivith piety, are capable of giv¬
ing us a faithful translation of the Scriptures. Since the days of King
James, Lexicographers of the New Testament have done little else than ser¬
vilely follow the blunders of the common Version. There are principles of
Philology and Lexicography, that are as indubitable as mathematical axioms.
Yet these principles are overlooked, or disregarded, and trodden under foot
by the King’s translators, in several important passages, vitallyaffecting the
peace, purity and happiness of the Church, the union of Christians, and
the conversion of the world. Nor do I recollect to have seen a Lexicon,
with perhaps a single exception, published since King James’ day, that has
not servilely followed, and copied, some of the grossest blunders of the
King’s translators—blunders so palpable, that even a well-educated Sophomore
should be able to detect them. I hazard nothing in pledging myself to dem¬
onstrate the truth of this assertion, in reference to the blunders aforesaid,
by arguments that cannot be refuted, whenever it may become necessary for
me so to do.
Beloved brethren, lovers of Jesus Christ and of His blessed Gospel, shall
these errors be permitted to remain, marring the beauty of the Holy vol¬
ume,—■ muddying , if not poisoning the waters of Salvation at the very foun¬
tain? Forbid it, Heaven! It must not be. We have the men and means
far beyond what any other people ever possessed, to make a pure and faithful
Version of the Scriptures in the English language, and send it into all lands.
“The field is the world.” Shall we scatter broad-cast, in this field,
the good seed, the pure word of God, confidently leaving the issue with
Him, who alone can give the increase? Or, shall we ignobly go to sleep,
and abandon the field to the enemy, to sow therein the tares of skepticism,
infidelity, and numberless forms of a corrupted and sectarianized Chris¬
We cannot properly appreciate the advantages of our position without
feeling, that a fearful—or, should I rather say, a sublime, and glorious re¬
sponsibility rests upon us; fearful, if we disregard its claims; sublime and
glorious, if we but do our duty.
Opposition and persecution of the most bitter and malignant character
we may reasonably expect to encounter; and that, too, from men calling them¬
selves Protestants; nay, more, orthodox, evangelical Christians. Our Master
was persecuted, even to the death, by the professors of the only true reli¬
gion then on earth. They accused Him of being in league with Beelzebub;,
and, on a charge of blasphemy, put Him to death. Common sense might
teach us, even if the Master did not, that it would be utterly foolish and
vain for us to expect to walk in His footsteps, and not, to some extent at
least, share His fate. Religious zealots, who boasted, “We have Abraham
for our father, and were never in bondage to any man,” impeached the
Holy One, and the Just, as a blasphemer, and procured His condemnation—
crying with the malignity of fiends, “Away with Him—Away with Himl
Crucify Him—Crucify Him! The fellow is not fit to live.” Religious zeal¬
ots, who boast of their adherence to the principle, that the Inspired Volume
is the only authoritative standard of faith and duty, have actually denounced,
against those who are laboring to give the pure word of God to all mankind,
without either increase or diminution, those fearful curses, which the Holy
Spirit pronounces against those, and those alone, who take from, or add
to, the Book of God. Protestants, who condemn the Pope for withholding the
word of God from the laity, condemn also their fellow-Protestants, because
they are unwilling that any part of that word should be withheld; and
because they have resolved, that, to the utmost of their ability, they will
give to all mankind the whole revealed will of God without any conceal¬
ment, subtraction or adulteration.
Is this marvellous inconsistency to be regarded as an evidence of pitiable
and pardonable imbecility? Or, should we consider it an example of the
judicial blindness of such as are abandoned to “ strong delusion to believe
a lie?" Be this, however, as it may, well may we be comforted, remem¬
bering “Him who endured similar contradictions of sinners against Himself.”
Because He humbled Himself to the cross. His Father exalted Him to th?
crown. “They that conquer shall wear the crown.”
“To him that overcometh, will I grant (says Messiah) to sit with Me
on My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father
on His throne.”
Blessed promise! Sustained by thee, “one may chase a thousand, and
put ten thousand to flight.” In the pending conflict between truth and
error, the eyes of Christendom are fixed on us with breathless suspense.
Hear, on this topic, the language of Dr. Thomas W. Jenkin, one of the most
distinguished Pedo-baptist divines of England, or of this age:—
“The collision of conflicting principles is rapidly approaching. The two
great battles of truth and error will probably be fought on the plains of In¬
dia, and in the valley of the Mississippi. In India the encounter has com¬
menced between Christianity and the united forces of idolatry and Moham¬
medanism. In the valley of the Mississippi the lines are now drawing for
a deadly conflict between true Christianity and Anti-christian Popery. The
neutral ground is narrowing every day, and they that are on the Lord’s side
must quit it fore\er.”
Solemn thought! There can be no neutrality in this warfare. Neutral
territory is a chimera. Its imaginary locality is the haunt of cowards, spies,
and traitors. All that profess to be on the Lord’s side, must abandon it
speedily, and forever—or share the traitor’s ignominious doom.
If any confidence can be reposed in the signs of the times, or in the pre¬
dictions of God’s word, we are rapidly approaching a crisis that is well cal¬
culated to try men’s souls; a crisis, most deeply involving every thing that
is dear to us, either as men or as American citizens.
Within the last few months sentiments have been boldly advanced from
high places in the center of the Great Valley, that are directly calculated
to annihilate every vestige of civil and religious liberty. It has been confident¬
ly affirmed, that outside of a Church, claiming infallibility , there is no pos¬
sible refuge between unbridled Despotism on the one hand, and lawless
Anarchy on the other. The reasoning, by which this startling conclusion
has been reached, deserves serious attention, not by any means, however,
on account of its logic —but because it presents itself as developing an item
of religious belief, that is wholly incompatible with the allegiance of an Amer¬
ican citizen, and utterly subversive of our Republican institutions. The po¬
sitions that have been taken, are substantially as follows: All lawful gov¬
ernment is of God; and they that resist it, shall receive to themselves dam¬
nation. But a government, no matter what may be its form, may become
corrupt, and oppressive, and thus forfeit all just claim to the Divine sanc¬
tion, and the obedience of its subjects. To allow the individual to judge,
when the government had become despotic, and might properly be resisted,
would be Anarchy —and, yet, to enforce unlimited obedience in such circum-
stances, would be Despotism. Hence the necessity, (say these advocates of
Politico-Ecclesiastic Despotism ,) of an infallible Judge to decide, when any
given government, or form of goverment, is lawful, and can be resisted
only on i.ain of damnation, —and when it is unlawful, and can be obeyed only
at the peril of Heaven's displeasure. Such an infallible Judge is the Church—
“Holy Catholic, and Apostolic” —of course!!! Now, mark the necessary re-
suit of these arrogant, unscnptural, irrational, and impious assumptions.
The right of private judgment, in reference to the best form of government,,
and the conduct of rulers, is utterly denied to the individual citizen. So
long, therefore, as rulers, (no matter how despotic and tyrannical,) can se¬
cure the favor and sanction of “Holy Mother,” it would be a damning sin
to resist their tyranny—but so soon as the Scarlet Lady may please to with¬
draw her sanction, pronounce the government unlawful, and absolve its
subjects from their allegiance, resistance becomes a duty, and obedience, a
It is very obvious, that these principles are utterly imcompatible with the
allegiance of an Ameiican citizen; and that no person, who holds them, can
take an oath of allegiance to any other government, than that of the
Church, without being guilty of perjury. And yet, the number of those
who bold these sentiments, and claim the privileges of American citizens, is
already estimated by millions,—and is yearly increasing, (mainly by immi¬
gration, ) not merely by tens, but by hundreds of thousands. How long
our Republican institutions can withstand the spread of such anti-republi¬
can and anti-christian sentiments, is a problem worthyof most grave, consid¬
But, notwithstanding this fearful peril, the Press is muzzled, and hardly
dares even to whine out its disapprobation and sense of approaching danger.
Politicians are in quest of votes; and pray to be excused from the duty of
sounding an alarm, that might obscure their prospects for promotion.—
Meanwhile the ship of State, a noble craft as ever spread a sail, is riding
gaily over the swelling waves of foreign allegiance, that are rapidly pro-
pelling her into the vortex of Politico-Ecclesiastic Despotism, in which,
should she he engulfed, she inevitably sinks to rise no more forever.
That this fearful catastrophe must necessarily result from the prevalence
of the sentiments, that the Scriptures should be withheld from the laity,
and the right of private judgment be denied them, in religion, and in politics,
is as clear as the light of Heaven—as inevitable as the day of judgment.
What startling confirmation is thus presented by the truth of Dr. Jen-
kin’s assertion, that, “In the Valley of the Mississippi, the lines are now
drawing for a deadly conflict between true Christianity and Anti-christian
Popery.” And what is the real issue? Simply—Shall the right of private
judgment be held sacred; or shall it be repudiated and denounced, as mis¬
chievous and execrable? Shall the Bible, or any part of it, be withheld
from the laity, and retained under the exclusive jurisdiction of religious
teachers, arrogating to themselves infallibility, and the right to decide for
their fellow-men what they must believe, and do, in order to salvation? Or
shall it be given to them faithfully translated, and in words easy to be
understood, that all may read therein, and learn their duty for themselves,
and not be made the helpless slaves and vassals of self-constituted con¬
science-keepers, and self-styled infallible spiritual advisers? This, and this
alone, is the true issue.
Let us, then, defend manfully, as the palladium of civil and religious lib¬
erty, the right of private judgment, and the Bible for the laity. And,
above all things, let us avoid the shameless inconsistency of claiming contin¬
ually to correct the errors of the -common Version in the pulpit, as almost
all do, and yet refusing to unite in any rational plan to give the laity a
Version, in which these same errors shall have been corrected. What is this
else, so far as it goes, than to deny the use of the Scriptures, and the right
of private judgment to the Laity, and to retain in our own hands the right
to judge for them in these particulars? The crisis that is approaching, is
well calculated to try men’s souls. The impending conflict between truth
and error, (of which a warning voice has come to us across the broad Atlan¬
tic,) spurns the aid of cowards, and calls for brave men, tried spirits, and
true. The struggle may be fierce, and comparatively protracted; but the
victory is certain, and the reward unspeakabty glorious. No weapon,
that is formed against Heaven’s truth, and its unrestricted communication
to every human being, can prosper.
The Leader of the embattled hosts, with whom it is our royal honor to
be associated, is a great and invincible Captain, wearing the sublime and
significant titles of “The Word of God” —“KING OF KIiVGS, AND
LORD OF LORDS.” Harbinger of His triumphant progress to the last
great battle between light and darkness, truth and falsehood, an angel stand¬
ing in the Sun, fit emblem of the Sun of Righteousness, and of that light,
which emanates from the Word of God, cries “with a loud voice, saying
to all the fowls that fly in the midst of Heaven, Come, and gather your¬
selves together unto the supper of the Great God; that ye may eat the flesh
of Kings, and the flesh of Captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the
flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of ail men, both
free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast” (says the re¬
vealing Spirit,) “and the Kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered to¬
gether to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet, that wrought mir¬
acles before him, with which he deceived them that hud received the
mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. There both were
cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant
were slain with the sword of Him that sat upon the horse, -which sword
proceeded out of His mouth. And all the fowls were filled with their
flesh.” “The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth,” His name be ble: sud for
THE DEFECTS OF THE COMMON ENGLISH VERSION.
BY REV. D. R. CAMPBELL, PRESIDENT OF GEORGETOWN COLLEGE.
Whether the common version of the English Scriptures really needs re¬
vision depends on the question, whether it already expresses with accu¬
rate fidelity and perspicuity, and in the most appropriate vernacular terms,,
the ideas and sense of the Hebrew and Greek originals ? This, again, is
a question to be decided by comparing it with those originals, and with a
just standard of a pure and perspicuous style. A version tnay be strict¬
ly faithful to the originals, yet defaced and less useful through defect of
style, or it may be unexceptionable in style, yet wanting in fidelity; or, it
may be wanting in both these respects.
Any attempt, at this late day, to deny or make light of the defects of
the common version, either as it respects its fidelity or perspicuity, is fore¬
closed and nullified by the express, united, uniform testimony of the whole
field of biblical criticism and literature, for the last two hundred and forty
years. During this long period, Providence has been preparing for the
contemplated revision, as it only can, and ought, to be done. During the
time, the original texts themselves, have been the subjects of the most in¬
tense study, up to the remostest authoritative sources; doubtful readings
have been compared, and verified or corrected, and light cast on obscure
passages, not a few. The historical lands of the Bible, have, also, been
explored, and many suggestive and corrective hints thence obtained.—
Meanwhile, a vast amount of true learning and talent has been brought to
bear upon the true expression, in English, and numerous other languages,
of the real meaning of the Hebrew and Greek texts. In this gradual,
vast, varied, and sifting biblical operation, numerous collisions have oc¬
curred between individual minds, communities and tongues, on the true
meaning of words and phrases; and on the true principles and exponents
to be used in translating them. Controversy has in many instances been
warm and disruptive; but has, in almost every instance, resulted in the
victory of truth; and in the committal of multitudes to principles, the fu¬
ture operation of which, the just and inevitable, has often been, at though
The Baptists, some years since, acting under a sense of this responsi¬
bility to God, adopted a principle of translation in making their foreign ver¬
sions, which Pedo-Baptists found to be irrefragably sustained by the criti¬
cal and philological concessions of their own first biblical scholars, made
when the vision of their scholarship was unobscured by the smoke of
interested strife. Much in the same predicament, is that party of the
Baptists who now oppose the application of the principle of their foreign
versions to the home one. They occupy the ridiculous attitude of con¬
tending against a principle for which they once felt emboldened to agitate
and disrupt English—nay, universal Christendom. There they are, waging
war with all the rest of the Christian world in the foreign fields, multiply¬
ing and circulating versions characteristically antagonistic to those of Pedo-
Baptists, yet laboring at home with might and main to make out, on criti¬
cal and philological grounds, even, that the very principle, for whose sake,
the disruption took place, and the strife is still practically carried on, does
not at all exist in the character of the common version !! They absolutely
require that the missionaries and infant churches shall contend, in the for¬
eign fields, unto the death, for a given principle of translation; while at
home they themselves most zealously and learnedly labor to prove its non¬
entity and the injury to truth which its maintenance must involve ! ! Veri¬
ly, consistency has gone demented, and zeal is left to run without her
aid. The principle which we have so successfully planted, however, in
foreign lands, commends itself too fully to the common sense of the multi¬
tude, both at home and abroad, to be otherwise than cherished. It is
plainly obvious to the most ordinary capacity, that to be consistent, as a
people, we must be the same in India and in America; our principles and
our practices must be the same; the principles and character of our ver¬
sions, though in different tongues, must be the same. We cannot consis¬
tently maintain the existence and sacred obligations of a principle in one
latitude and deny its existence and propriety in another. Pedo-Baptists at
home are Pedo-Baptists abroad, and so must Baptists be. It wont do for
us to fight them on the practical maintenance of a principle abroad, and at
the same time contend in their presence, at home, that no such principle exists
or applies. Jesuits may act thus, but Baptists may not. If they persist in
it, Pedo-Baptists will soon demolish them, both in the home, and foreign
field, with their own forged weapons; and the foreign Baptists, too, will
unite in-the denunciation of their inconsistency. This influence is already
favorably at work. Baptists have no alternative left them, except to con¬
form their versions, every where, the world over, to one, and the same
principle. If they have erred in the matter of foreign versions, let it be
shown, and let them retrace their steps; but if they are right there, they
must come up to the same rectitude here, and leave consequences with
God. By the act of separation from the rest of the Christian world in the
matter of foreign versions, they have committed themselves irretraceably
to the imperfection of the common version, and to the existing practical
necessity for its revision. They must carry out their principle, or other¬
wise, stand before the world in the ridiculous attitude of at once holding
and denying a sacred principle with respect to the Bible. Baptist opposi¬
tion to this movement must give way.
Providence is also pi'eparing the evangelical Pedo-Baptists by move¬
ments, the ultimate bearing of which is not yet generally perceived by
themselves. In addition -to the irresistable foree of the evidence of the
imperfections of the version, furnished by the varied biblical learning, is¬
suing constantly from the press, and from the schools, and tbe pulpits of
the times, there are denominational conflicts at work amongst themselves,
which are gradually calling that evidence into active requisition. The
Episcopalian Sectarianism of the version is acknowledged on all hands;
and the haughty assumptions and intolerance of Episcopacy are, especi¬
ally in England, making themselves sensibly felt. Congregationalism is
the powerful antagonism of Episcopacy in that country. The strife is
warm, and likely to be yet warmer. It is already seen, that the chief
means of humbling its pretensions is Scripture. And the project is already
on foot to revise the version with a view to remove, what all scholars
agree to he unwarrantable, palpable, Episcopal favoritism, placed there, at
the expense of the inspired truth. This project will receive favor with
all dissenters from the church. This done, and another step will be ta¬
ken. Episcopalians will return to their ancient principle of immersion.—
Thus, step by step, the truth will triumph.
Last year, the American Bible Society took an important stand, and
avowed the following noble sentiment: “By far the greater portion of the
readers of the English Bible, are unlearned persons and children; and it
is essential to remove every thing in the mere forms, which may become
to any a stumbling block in the way of the right and prompt understand¬
ing of God’s holy word.” Hep. of Com. on ver. p. 20. In accordance
with this sentiment, the Society formally adopted an edition, on the revis¬
ion of which, its committee had been engaged nearly three years, in which
alterations from previous editions, are acknowledged, “but little short of
Twenty-Four Thousand.” The scholarship of the Committee was, how¬
ever much hampered by the mixed and conflicting denominational inter¬
ests represented in it, and by the stringent constitution of the Society, so
that they seldom felt at liberty “to go behind the translators” of King
James: though they did it on minor points, where no jealousy could be
excited. Of what they have done, the present movement will avail itself,
and will carry out the whole of the above noble sentiments, with no re¬
striction, except that which a sacred regard to truth, and the decisions of
the most sound and competent scholarship will impose. We know of no
competent authority to put any other restriction on the matter; and the na¬
ture of the case forbids any other. We feel that the American Pedo-Bap-
lists have conceded the principle, in the foregoing extract, on which all ver¬
sions ought to be made. Nothing ought to be in their “form which may be¬
come to any, a stumbling-block in the way of the right and 'prompt understanding
of God's holy word:" and this is especially important, as “by far the greater
portion of their readers are unlearned persons and children.’’ The Baptists,
eVery where, are irretraceably committed, as we have seen, to the same
principle. Is is therefore vain, under any pretext of expediency, to resist
its application. So far as the principle is concerned, the Catholics are as
justifiable in withholding the Bible altogether from the masses, as Protes¬
tants can be, in withholding a single sentence or word. The contest, on
this question, is destined, at no distant day, to narrow down to this. Ev¬
ery word for the masses, or none at all.
The present movement places the question of version-making on a new
basis. It introduces, as its main element, the voice of the Christian peo¬
ple; and is teaching them, that the question of making or revising a ver¬
sion is their own —not that of Popes and Councils, or of Kings and clerical
convocations as generally heretofore; that it is properly under their own
supervision, at their own expense, and for their own especial use as immor¬
tal beings. Hence it is, that we hold these public meetings, to spread out
publicly the merits of the case, to diffuse information, promote intelligence,
awaken interest, create means, prepare patronage, and insure success.—
This, we admit, is contrary to the usurping maxim, sometimes, even now,
recommended, and heretofore generally acted upon in English Christen¬
dom, viz: “Prepare the version privately.” This maxim has long enough
had its sway, over the inalienable rights of the people of God, and suffi¬
ciently long deprived them of the whole word in their vernacular. Our
maxim is, inform the people of the true conditimi of their version, that they
may unite in procuring the removal of every avoidable defect, which char¬
acterizes it. In accordance with this avowed end, I design, in the sequel
of this address, to lay before you, selected samples, bearing on the gene¬
ral points on which the present version is defective.
In the first place, the titles of some of its books, savor of the canoni¬
zing practice of Rome. On the first page of the New Testament, we read:
“The Gospel according to Saint Matthew.” In like manner, we read,
“Saint Mark,” “Saint Luke,” “Saint John.” Propriety would require
simply, “The Gospel according to Matthew,” “The Gospel according to
Mark,” &c. The prefix “Saint,” is wholly of Popish origin, though
agreeable, also, to Church of England ears. The title of the Apocalypse,
goes farther, and reads: “The Revelation of Saint John the Divine .”—
Here the Popish form is not the most objectionable item; it contradicts the
opening statement of the book itself. The Apocalypse is not the Revela¬
tion of John, neither as Saint or Divine; it is, as the opening words say,
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” This title is, therefore, both Papistic
and false, and forms a shameful blot on the pages of a Protestant Bible.
Truth and consistency alike, demand the removal of such degrading blem¬
In the second place, some of its renderings sacrifice fidelity and unifor¬
mity, if -not candor, to sectarianism. The word epislcopee occurs four times
in the Greek New Testament. Twice (Luke 19: 44. 1 Pet. 2: 12,) it de¬
notes the act of being visited, and Is correctly rendered in the version by
the word visitation. Twice (Acts 1: 20. 1 Tim. 3: 1,) it denotes office,
(see Ps. 109: 8,) or charge, (as Geneva Yer. in loc.) the connection deter¬
mining its nature. Instead, however, of charge or office, the version has
(Acts 1: 20,) “bishopriclc,” and “office of a bishop,” (1 Tim. 3: 1.) The
reference (Acts 1: 20,) is to the place held by Judas. As the original
word denotes charge or office but twice in the New Testament; and is first
used to designate that of Judas; King- James and his translators, bv ren-
, . t # O J t
dering it bishopriclc —using the word in its ecclesiastical sense, have unwit¬
tingly assigned Episcopacy an unenviable origin. According to the ver¬
sion, Judas was the first Episcopal bishop, the first link in the succession,
and is the only person said, in the New Testament, to have held a bishop¬
riclc. Episcopalians may regard the statement of this fact as invidious; but
they have their own zeal to engraft Episcopacy on the version alone to
bla'me for the existence of the odium. To procure -it, the original word
was tortured into a comment, rather than translated. The passage in the
Acts is, properly rendered, his office or charge —not his “bishopriclc”—let
another take ; that in Timothy, If any desire office or a charge —not “the office
of a bishop,” as the version has it. The Episcopacy is in the translators’
comments on the original word, not in the word itself, or in its proper trans¬
lation. It is strange that the translators did not render the word in the-
passage in Timothy, by bishopriclc. Uniformity would require it; and it
would not have left the vacancy made by the death of Judas as the only
bishoprick spoken of, or distinctly alluded to in the Bible.
The word episkopos occurs six times in the Greek original. In 1 Pet.
4: 15, the version has it “ busy-body .” In Phi. 1:1.1 Tim. 3: 2. Tit. 1:
7. 1 Pet. 2: 21, it has “ bishop” or “bishops” as the case may be. In Acts
20: 28, it has “overseers” as its rendering. Now, why this diversity ?—
There is nothing in the import of the original word to require it. The
simple and proper rendering in every case would be overseer or overseers,
and this rendering would exactly represent its meaning in every instance
of its occurrence. Disinterested fidelity and simplicity, as well as unifor¬
mity, therefore, required this to be given every where, as the true render¬
ing. But then there would be no direct mention of any bishop in the Bible,
and this would be ruinous to the pretensions of English Episcopacy. To
prevent such a Scriptural result, the “old ecclesiastical word, bishop, was
employed to represent the original in preference to the other. But once
adopted, uniformity would require it, as the representative in every case.
To have carried this rule out, however, would have given us “bishops in
other men’s matters.’’ 1 Pet. 4: 15. And in Acts 20: 28, the word bish¬
ops would have told the fact, that bishop and elder are but different names
of the same officer in the New Testament Churches; for obviously, the
persons called episkopoi, bishops, Acts 20: 28, are also called presbuteroi
elders, Acts 20: 16. To keep this important fact from the English reader,
the translators threw aside their favorite word bishops, and used, in its
stead, for once, the true word, overseers. [Acts 20: 28,] Thus, by an un-
candid abandonment of their chosen word, by which they were to give Epis¬
copacy a foundation in the English Bible, when that word was about to ex¬
pose the whole fabric as baseless-—they succeeded in giving their ecclesi¬
astical system an unwarrantable hold in the version; violently sacrificing,
for this sectarian end, fidelity, uniformity and candor. The substitution
of overseer, every where, for bishop would relieve the version of violent dis¬
tortion; or the use of bishop, every where, as the exponent of episkopos,
would give it, at least, consistency with itself.
The existence of the notes appended to the second epistle to Timothy,
and to the epistle to Titus, making it appear that Timothy was the “first
bishop of the Church of the Ephesians,” and Titus the “first bishop of
the Church of the Cretians,” can be accounted for, only on the ground,
that they seem to favor Episcopacy. No scholar allows them a particle of
authority, and the only purpose they can serve, is to mislead the unwary.
They are spurious appendages to the inspired records. They were rejec¬
ted by Tyndale, Coverdale, and even by the Yulgate. There is no pro¬
priety in their existence in the standard English version.
Since the retention of the word church, as the representative of ekklesia,
instead of the word congregation, is matter of distinct record in King
James’ 3rd Rule, the sectarian design, in this particular, will not be ques¬
tioned by any one. I shall therefore pass it without further notice.
Some may be surprised to learn that our version sanctions the Easter
festival of the Episcopal and Catholic churches. Acts 12:4, reads, “inten¬
ding after Easter, to bring him forth to the people.” The true rendering
is, “intending after the Passover to bring him forth,” &c. How, some
may ask, came the word Easter to be substituted in our version for Pass-
over? It occurred thus: When the Missionaries of the Papal church first
went among the heathen Saxons, they found them having an annual festi¬
val in honor of their Goddess, Easter, which they observed with great pomp
and solemnity every April. With a view more speedily to convert them
to their church, they adopted the name of their Godess, for what they
called their paschal feast, which was observed about the same time of the
year. Thus originated the Easter festival. The term immediately be¬
came “ecclesiastical”—found its way into the first version of the English
Bible—is in the common version because made to support the organism
and the usages of the church of England. In the recent revision by the
American Bible Society, this word could not be displaced from the text,
though all agreed that it is a palpable corruption. The observers of the
feast of Easter would not surrender the only sanction they have for it, (a
corruption of the English text.) The policy that first introduced it, suc¬
ceeded still to retain it, and obviously for a sectarian end. The revisors,
however, inserted the following; note in the margin: “Greek—the Pass-
over,” as if doomed to testify to their own unfaithfulness in the text. By
what code of conscience they could leave the acknowledged corruption
“Easter” in the version, in this passage, while they felt it to be their duty
to correct, “ according to the Hebrew,” Ruth 3: 15, Josh. 19: 2, and several
other passages, where the corruption was less manifest and less corruptive,
they themselves best know. It is clear, that fidelity failed them.
The aim of this train of remarks, has not been so much to attack Epis¬
copacy, as to expose the intentional sectarianism of King James’ version,
and the unworthy method by which this feature was imparted to it. It is,
intentionally a church of English version; and is by its very character,
unfitted to be any thing else. It forfeits all claim to be received as the com¬
mon version in the English tongue.
In the third place, it is rendered untelligible in many places, by the
presence of untranslated words. Take the following: Math. 5: 22, “Who¬
soever shall say to his brother, Baca, shall be in danger of the council.”
What is the meaning of Baca ? How many of the readers of the version
can attach any certain meaning to the passage containing it on account of
it? Mat. 6: 24, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” The word mam¬
mon is now used very frequently and popularly. Yet how many of the
plain readers of English know its literal meaning ? 1 Cor. 1R: 22, “If any
man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maran-atha.”
As pointed in the version this whole jargon appears to be one word. A
period should follow anathema, maran-atha being not only of an entirely
different meaning, but of a different tongue from anathema. But even
correctly punctuated, what sense does it convey to the English reader ?
The tone of the verse indicates that something very important is intended;
but who can learn what it is from the passage ? I have selected these
as samples, because they are not only unintelligible themselves, but render,
also, the passages containing them unintelligible. Can this be pleasing
to God, or just to the souls of men ? Is there any good reason why such
words should not be translated, and their meaning given to every child in
plain vernacular terms ?
This is the place to consider the terms relating to the ordinance of bap¬
tism, also untranslated in our version. All we insist on is, let them be
put on the same level with Raca, Mammon, Anathema, Maran-atha; and
let the true and candid scholarship of the churches and of the world say
what they literally mean; and let that meaning—whatever it is—be given
in the version, in specific English words. This is the only rule admissa-
ble in translating the words of the inspired record. We want no party
end, farther than the exact truth, precisely given, may favor it; but we
firmly object to any covering up of the truth by any non-translation of
In the fourth place, it is obscured in many instances, by the presence of
unnecessarily learned words. This defect is rendered the more striking,
because of the general Saxon simplicity of the style. Notice the follow¬
ing list; ‘synagogue,’ ‘proselyte,’ ‘tetrarch,’ ‘quaternion,’ ‘centurion,’ ‘ma¬
trix,’ ‘delectable,’ ‘celestial,’ ‘terrestrial,’ ‘progenitor, ‘prognosticator,’
‘ambassage,’ ‘cogitation,’ ‘inquisition,’ ‘omnipotent.,’ ‘occurrent,’ ‘amerce,’
‘Calvary,’and such like. Now why depart, in these instances, from the
u ual simplicity? While some of these may be more intelligible than others,
it is obvious that all of them are susceptible of simplification or displacement
by simpler equivalents. Some of the passages in which they 7 occur, are
rendered, to say the least, obscure, if not unintelligible by their presence.
For instance, it is said, Acts 12: 4, that Peter “was delivered to four quar-
ternions of soldiers.” Now, how many can tell from the reading, of how
many the guard consisted? Probably not one in a hundred knows how
many are in a “querternion of soldiers.” If so, what is the propriety of
having such learnedly obscure words in a version, which ought to be intel¬
ligible to the humblest capacity.
The same objection lies against the following learned forms of proper
names: Thomas Didymus, Marcus, Lucas, Timotheus and Sylvamis. How
much simpler and more intelligible would be, Thomas the Twin, Mark,
Luke, Timothy and Silas? There is no propriety in the existence of such
learned forms; besides, they affect the uniformity of the version, and must
tend to depreciate its value, as the Bible of the unlearned and the young.
In the fifth place, it is defaced and obscured by the presence of numer¬
ous obsolete and antiquated words and phrases. The words of a living
language, like every other created living thing, are. subject to the modify¬
ing influences and changes of time. They come into being and flourish;
then some change their meaning, while others decay; and many, at length,
die out. A period of near two centuries and a half has brought many of
the words and phrases of our version into the several conditions. The
consequence is, that the style is, in many instances, obscure and perplexing
to such as are not versed in such matters. Take the following as samples.
“Take with thee ten loaves and cracknels,” 1 K. 14: 3. What is meant
by cracknels? Would one in a hundred know that they were a sort of
cakes? “Eat the lamb’s head with his legs, and th e purtenxmce thereof,”
(Ex. 12: 9.) How many know what is meant by the purlenance of a lamb?
“All that hear the bruit of thee.” (Neh. 3: 19.) What is the meaning of
the word bruit? Can one of a hundred tell ? “And David left his car¬
riage in the hands of the keeper of his carriage, and ran into the army,”
(1 Sam. 17: 22.) The obvious meaning of the language of this pas¬
sage is, that David left his carriage in the care of his carriage driver;
but the actual meaning is, that he left his baggage with his baggage car-
tier. The word carriage has changed its meaning since the version was
made. “These are come to fray them,” (Zach. 1: 21.) What does
to fray mean ? How may of the readers of the Bible are likely ever to
meet with this verb outside their Bible ? He will set them to ear his
ground,” (1 Sam. 8: 12.) Who ever uses, or understands the verb to ear,
at this day ? Who would suppose that it is equivalent io the verbs to till
or to plough? “Then thou slialt have worship in the presence of them
that sit at meat with thee,” (Luke 14: 10.) The most natural meaning of
the expression, Thou shalt have worship, is, that thou shalt have religious
exercises. How many uninformed persons could know that the actual
meaning is, “Thou shalt have respect or honor, &c. Paul uses the phrase,
“Providing for honest thing, (2 Cor. 8: 21.) Honest things in modern dis¬
course would mean the opposite of dishonest; but here the phrase means
decent, becoming, befitting things. Yet who would suppose this, from the
mere reading of the verse ? “Be thou an example to the unbelievers in
conversation,” says Paul to Timothy, (ch. 4: 12). In what was he to be
an example ? Nineteen in every twenty would answer, in his talk, speech,
discourse; but the word conversation, generally, in the English Bible means
conduct. He was to be an example therefore in conduct. “Moreover,
brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God,” (2 Cor. 8: 1.) What
is the meaning of this sentence ? How many of the intelligent read¬
ers of the Bible, know the meaning of “we do you to wit?” How much
more intelligible would be, “we make known to you,” &c. “How long-
will ye seek after leasing?” (Psalms 4: 2.) What is the meaning
of the word leasing? Why, said an intelligent lawyer, when this ques¬
tion was put to him, and who is opposed to the revision movement, “leas¬
ing denotes the letting of lands or other property to a person for a given
term of years, and the Psalmist must be reproving worldliness in that pas¬
sage !” The only mistake here is, that the word simply denotes lying .—
The lawyer’s mistake was a natural one, however, and the version more
to blame than he. “We shall not prevent them who are asleep,” (1 Thes.
4: 15.) The uninformed would naturally understand the writer to say:
“We shall not hinder them;” because to hinder is the modern meaning of
to prevent. He means to say, however, “We shall not go before or antici¬
pate them.” “The mystery of iniquity doth already work, only he who
lettetli will let, until he be taken out of the way.” (2 Thes. 2: 7.) By “he
who letteth will let,” the million will most naturally understand, he who
permitteth will permit, which is the very opposite of what is intended, viz:
he who hindereth will hinder. The verbs to prevent and to let have entirely
changed their meaning, since the version was made. They now mean the
very opposite of what they do in these passages. Now, what is the neces¬
sary effect of the existence of such words and phrases in the Bible of the
people, the vast majority of whom must take words in their current sense,
having no knowledge of the changes of meaning, which they gradually
undergo ? Must they not necessarily obscure it, and perplex its read¬
ers ? Surely all such defects of style ought to be removed.
In the sixth place, the phraseology is, in several instances, offensive to
true delicacy. There should be no vulgarisms in the language of the com¬
mon version. As a book to be read and expounded in the presence of
raised society, every expression should be in accordance with the dictates
of good taste and propriety. That our version contains expressions offen¬
sive to true and acknowledged delicacy, which prevent portions of it from
being read, either in the pulpit or family, every minister and every head
of a family, accustomed to read the Bible in such places, knows. Consult
an expression found in all of the following passages, which I may not pro¬
nounce in your hearing, 1 Sam. 25: 22, 34. 1 K. 14: 10; 16: 11; 21: 21.
1 K. 9: 8; 18: 27. Isa. 36: 12. If our translators could have felt them¬
selves at liberty to give a somewhat obscure rendering of any expression
found in the original for any good end, or even to transfer any phrase or
word, the expression in question, one would suppose, would have been
the first upon which the privilege would have been exercised; but here
they are plain to offensiveness. The original is capable, however, of be¬
ing given in the version by a euphemism sufficiently perspicuous and ap¬
propriately refined. The change ought to be made. Until it is, an offen¬
sive and depreciating stain will rest unnecessarily upon its pages.
All Bible readers must have been struck with the frequency with which
the word “belly," is used in the version. Though less vulgar and offensive
than the expressions just alluded to, good taste, and, often, strict accuracy
would suggest a more sparing use of it. No writer of taste employs it at
the present day. It is forbidden in polite social discourse. Its indiscrim¬
inate use in the English Bible cannot, therefore be an excellency, or add
to its usefulness. A remarkably undignified and unintelligible use of it
we have in Titus 1:12. “The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow
bdlies.” The assertion, “The Cretians are slow bellies" is equally vulgar
and incomprehensible. What do we know of the Cretians by being told
that they are “sloiv bellies ?” How much more intelligible would be the
assertion, “The Cretians are lazy or slothful gluttons," which is the true
rendering. Is there no room here for revision ? Must such a phraseology
be forced upon society in spite of all propriety, simply because it happens
to be in the version ? In numerous passages in the Book of Revelation,
especially in the 4th, 5th and 6th chapters, our version speaks of “ beasts ”
in the “midst of the throne,” and “round about the throne,” and “before
the throne;” giving “glory,” and “honor,” and “thanks,” to God; “fall-
down,” with the four and twenty elders “before the Lamb,” uttering
“Amen.” Thousands of pious Christians have been startled by this lan¬
guage, and greatly perplexed by the incongruity of its representations;
while infidels and unbelievers have been made to sneer by it. The laws
of symbolical representation justify the use of the term beast or beasts to
denote wicked men on earth; but it violates every law of language to rep¬
resent beasts as in Heaven, praising, thanking, and adoring God and the
Lamb. The original should be rendered living creatures. Why should
not our version be so amended, and freed from a phraseology, which
shocks the moral intuitions, and bewilders the intelligence and piety of mul¬
titudes of its readers ?
In the seventh place, the version is obscured by a want of uniformity
in the orthography of proper names. It was a remark of Origen, that
“no person who desires thoroughly to understand the Sacred Scriptures,
should undervalue a scrupulous attention to the proper names.’ The names
of persons and places are the great centers of all history. An orthogra-
phy that tends to confound persons and places, is an obliteration of such
guiding centers, and is, therefore, not tolerated in any writer. Suppose
Bancroft’s History of the United States were to exhibit on its pages the fol¬
lowing specimens of orthography, what would be the judgment of the peo¬
ple and the press upon it ? In one section the name of the Father of the
country is written Washington, in another Washton, and in a third Wash¬
ing , In like manner is written, Monroe, and Moro; .Jefferson, and Jeffron;
Madison and Masdon. So Boston, and Beson. Philadelphia, and Delphia.
Memphis, and Mophis. What would be the public estimate put upon such
a work ? How would it be received ? Precisely this defect is extensively
characteristic of our version. The Hebrew names in the left hand column
are represented by the forms opposite them respectively.
’Haz-zah.Gaza and Azzah.
Rah-hel.Rachel and Rahel.
Noahh ..Noah and Woe.
Elih-shah.Elisha and Eli&ms.
Hka-ran.Haran and Charran.
Ye-ther.Jether and Jethro.
Kish.. Kish and Cis.
Yo-nah.-Jonah and Jonas.
Yir-m ? pth.Jeremiah, Jeremias and Jeremy.
Y’ho-sLooa .... Jehoshua, Joshua and Jesus.
Hhiz-kiy-yah. . .Hezekiah, Hizkiah, and Hizkijah.
Yim-nah.Jimna, Imna and Jimnites.
Y.ot-ba-thah.. .. Jotbathah, and Jotbath.
Y’ho-tsa-dhak .. Jehozadak, and Josedech.
Yits-ri.. .Izri and Jazerites.
Kots.Koz, Coz and Ilakkoz.
Koosh.Cush. Ethiopia and Ethiopians.
Kooshi.Cushi, Ethiopian and Ethiopians.
P’le-sheth.Philistia, Palestina, Palestine, and Philistines.
R’pha-im.Rephaim, Rephaims and Giants.
Ba-moth-Baal. .Bamoth Baal, and “ The high places of Baal.”
Aram.Aram, Mesopotamia, Syria and Syrians.
Ash-shoor.Asshur, Assur, Assyria, and Assyrian.
Ge-ba.Geba, Gaba, and Gibeah.
This list, showing the most diversified orthography, might be swelled
to the amount of several pages of manuscript. But the specimens given
clearly and conclusively show that the translators were guided by no fixed,
uniform principle in writing the names of persons and places in the Scrip¬
tures. In any other work, in the English tongue, such bewildering irregu¬
larity would be regarded as sufficient to condemn it; however otherwise
valuable it might be. What a handle such a source of confusion and be¬
wilderment is in the hands of the caviler! In some of the instances the
diversity is attributable to the influence of the Septuagint version; but there
is no good reason for perpetuating that influence at such a cost to the
English reader. Definiteness and perspicuity forbid it.
In the eighth place, an unreasonable want of uniformity is characteristic
of the renderings in the version generally. No other writings require great-
er uniformity in the translation of them. The great aim of the translators
of the inspired Hebrew and Greek Scriptures is, to give, in equivalent ver¬
nacular words, the exact ideas they contain. Nothing is the Bible in a ver¬
sion, but the exact equivalent of the originals. Rhetorical variety is to be
consulted no farther than a just regard to the precise representation of the
inspired words and phrases with their meaning will warrant. Beauty and
finish, at the expense of a shade of truth, would be too costly. The main
attraction in a Bible is its manifest fidelity to the mind of of God, clearly
and appropriately expressed. A Concordance of the English Bible should,
in the main, were it translated into Hebrew and Greek, be a fair Concor¬
dance of the Bible as it is in these tongues, and vice versa. An abso¬
lute identity of words and “phrasing” in every recurring instance is not,
of course, insisted upon; but it is evident that a too free diversity is per¬
plexing to the reader and dangerous to accuracy. After making all due
allowance for the just variety, which our language may advantageously
allow, and which the difference of idioms may require; I am of opinion
that the translators of King James indulged in freedom of renderings to •
an extent, which shows, that they were governed by no fixed rule or prin¬
ciple in the matter. In proof of this opinion, let me first give you sam¬
ples of the renderings given, in our version, of single words. Romahh,
spear, buckler, lancet, javelin; rekhesh, mule, dromedary, swift-betist; sh’hool,
hell, pit, grave; migdal, flower, castle, pulpit, toveer, Migdal-el, Migdal-gad ;
mota, staves, heavy, yoke, bands; mishmar, guard, watch, prison, office, dili¬
gence; mishpat, judgment, just, justice, laiv, lawful, right, order, ordinance,
sentence, measure, manner , form, fashion, due, discretion, determination, des¬
ert, custom, cause, charge, ceremonies, usest, adversary, crimes, wrong, worthy;
k’li, vessels, 'pot, tool, wares, weapons, sacks, bag, jewels, armor-bearer, artil¬
lery, instrument, thing, stuff, furniture, carriage, whatsoever, psaltery; hiie-
bebh, axe, knife, sword, dagger, tool, mattock; hharash, artificer, carpenter,
smith, mason, engraver, worker, maker, workman, skillful craftsman, wrought.
The same unregulated freedom characterizes the renderings given of the
verbs. The Hebrew verb ’hala receives 48 different renderings in the
kal species alone, as, to arise, to ascend, to break, to bring up, to climb, to be
burnt, to come, to cut off, to excel, to fall, to go, to group to leap, to be laid, to
offer, to be 'perfected, at once, to be recovered, to scale, to set up, to shoot forth ,
to begin to spring, surely, vapor, &c., &c. Nasa receives 64 in the same
species, e. g. to bear up, to be able to bear, to accept, to carry, to carry away ,
to bring, to burn, to forgive, to exact, to hold up, to lift up, to lay, to pardon,
to go on, to fetch, to ease, to contain, to cast, to lade, to offer, to obtain, to re¬
spect, to set, to spare, to stir up, to take up, to take away , to suffer, to swear, to
'wear, to yield, to exalt, to marry, utterly, honorable, &c. Soom receives 56,
and nathan 93 in the same species or conjugation. These are but sam¬
ples. The list might be greatly swelled, both from the Hebrew and the
Greek. Can it be that the above words have actually such a number of
diverse meanings ? If so, how was the meaning in any given place deter¬
mined with any degree of certainty ? This is a serious view of the case.
But let us take a glance at the subject from another point of view, and
see the perplexity to which this unrestrained diversity leads. If one take
up a Concordance to the English Bible, and turn up the word branch, he
will find, upon examination, that it represents in his English Bible no fewer
than 20 Hebrew words; the word captain 15; the word destruction 32; the
word mighty, 24; the word pit, 12; prince, 11; to bring, 31; to break, 25.
To this characteristic feature of our version there is scarcely a limit; and
the confusion to which it leads can hardly be a matter of indifference to
any real lover of the truth. The same faulty want of uniformity appears
in the translations of the Hebrew idiomatic phrases. The term Yadh,
hand, which is very frequently used idiomatically, is represented by no
fewer than 78 different renderings and modifications of renderings. To
the want of some fixed, uniform principle of translation, a large propor¬
tion of them is to be attributed.
The idiomatic word ish, a man, is rendered by 40 different words; and,
when specified by either a concrete or abstract noun as an attributive, or
when in apposition with a following noun, there has evidently been no
settled rule observed in its translation. Sometimes the specifying noun,
whether concrete or abstract, is translated as an adjective thus: “eloquent
man,” for man of words, (Ex. 4: 10;) “bloody man,” for man of bloods,
(2 Sam. 16: 8;) “a violent man,” for a man of violence, (2 Sam. 22: 49:)
“valiant men,” for men of valor, (24: 9.) On the other hand, we have,
as frequently, “man of God,” where the principle, on which the fore¬
going examples are translated, would require, godly man. So we have
“men of renown,” for famous men, ( Gen. 6: 4;) “men of war,” for war¬
riors, (Jud. 20: 17.) So far were they from having any fixed rule in the
rendering of this idiom, that both forms occur in the same verse (2 Sam.
16: 7,) where we read, “thou bloody man,” and “ thou man of Belial.”
This word Belial is in such constructions sometimes translated, and
sometimes not; evincing in this respect a very palpable want of uniformity.
In the following we have it untranslated. “Children of Belial,” (Dt. 13:
13;) “sons of Belial,” (Judg. 19: 22; 20: 13,) “daughter of Belial” (1
Sam. 1: 16.) See also 1 Sam. 2: 12; 10: 27; 25: 17, 25; 30: 22. 2 Sam.
20: 1; 23: 6. 1 K. 21: 10, 13. 2 Chron. 13: 7. The word is translated in
the following passages, thus: Dt. 15: 9, “wicked heart,” for heart of Be¬
lial; 2 Sam. 22: 5, “ungodly men,” for men of Belial; Job 34: 18, “thou
art wicked,” for thou art of Belial; Ps. 18: 4, “ungodly men,” for men of
Belied; Ps. 41: 8, “an evil disease,” for a thing of Belial; also Ps. 101: 3;
Prov. 6: 12, “a naughty person,” for aperson of Belial; 16: 27, an “un¬
godly man,” fora man of Belial; 19: 28, “an ungodly witness,” fora wit¬
ness of Belial; Neh. 1: 11, “a wicked counsellor,” fora Counsellor of Be¬
lial; 2: 1, “the wicked,” for Belial. The course of translation, which
produced such a diversity and obscurity as the above passages exhibit, is
unjustifiable. It betrays the absence of just views of the duties and aims
of translators. Why the word Belial should be translated in some pas¬
sages, and left untranslated in others, is unaccountable on any other
ground, than that, at the time the version was made, just views on the
importance of giving the whole truth to the reader in the most explicit
terms of his vernacular tongue, did not obtain, especially among the King’s
In Ezek. 30: 6, 18, occurs, precisely the same expression in the Hebrew:
yet the version has, as its translation in v. 6, “the pride of her power,”
and in v. 18, “the pomp of her strength.” The original is precisely the
■samein Gen. 41: 37: 20: 15: Dt. 23: 16. The rendering, in the version,
in these three places respectively, is “good in the eyes of,” “it pleaseth thee”
“it likctk him best.” The expression in the originals is precisely the same
in Ex. 6: 8; Num. 14: 30; Dt. 32: 40. In the latter, the translation is, “to
lift up the hand;” in the other two, it is, “to swear” I have confined my
illustrations in proof of the want of uniformity in the renderings in our
version to the Old Testament. But it would be easy to add copious illus¬
trations from the New Testament also. I have adduced enough, however,
to sustain my proposition: that there is a want of just uniformity; and the
conclusion is inevitable, that the precision and accuracy of the version is
thereby impaired, and its value depreciated.
In the ninth place, the version is wanting in discriminating accuracy on
points of ellipsis. It requires the nicest judgment, in a translator, accu¬
rately to determine where his author really intends an ellipsis, and what
word or words will fairly represent him. In regard to ellipses in the sa¬
cred text, it is obvious, that too high a degree of discrimination cannot be
exercised. How much inaccuracy characterised the decisions of the trans¬
lators of King James in this particular is shown from the fact, as made
public by Prof. Bush, that the American Bible Society discovered some
years since, that during a revision made about 1638 those decisions were
altered in one form or another in between “eight and ten thousand instan¬
ces.” On this point much remains yet to be accomplished. Notice the fol¬
lowing instances in proof: “The horse-leech hath two daughters, crying
Give, Give,” (Prov. 30: 15.) There is here no intended ellipsis; and the
word crying is wrongly inserted, and weakens the force of the language.
The true reading is, “the horse-leech ha’h two daughters. Give, Give.—
The two daughters are Give, Give. “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be di¬
minished, (Prov. 13: 11.) It should read, “Wealth is diminished by
vanity. There is no ellipsis designed, and the insertion of the word “got¬
ten,” misleads the reader as to the sense. “The wicked boasteth of his
heart’s desire and blesseth the covetous whom the Lord abhorreth, (Ps.
10: 3.) According to the original it should read: “The wicked boasteth
of his heart’s desire, and gaining—blesseth—despiseth Jehovah.” The
sense of this passage our version does not give, and the word “whom” is
entirely out of place. “But to sit on my right hand, and on my left hand
is not mine to give, but it shall be giv:n to them for whom it is prepared,”
(Mark 10: 40; Math. 20: 23.) As this verse reads in the version, it seems
to throw a doubt upon the Saviour’s right to confer rewards. It ought to
read, “But to sit on my right hand, and on my left hand is not mine to
give, except to those for whom it is prepared;” a very different statement
from that of the version. The supposition of an ellipsis misled the trans¬
lators; and the words which they have inserted mislead their readers.—
‘Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul
shall have no pleasure in him,” (Heb. 10: 38.) The words “any man ”
are improperly inserted, first, because it is, to say the least, doubtful what
the real subject of the verb, “draw back,” is; and, second, because their
insertion commits the version to a disputed doctrinal point, which Anti-
Calvinists reject. A common version should contain no human addition
based on party sentiments. I say this as a Calvinist. Let the version, on
disputed points, just represent the original, no more, no less. These spe¬
cimens must suffice. They are sufficient to show the importance of revis¬
ion, on this head, to the accuracy of the version.
In the tenth place, the version fails in numerous instances to give the
distinctive truth of the originals; while in others it makes unwarrantable
additions. Let me invite attention first, to specimens of its indistinctness.
The distinctive name, Jehovah occurs in the Hebrew in almost innumer¬
able places; yet in every place, except four , it is rendered by, “Lord,”
which is by no means its equivalent. The word Adhonai, which also
occurs very frequently, is rendered by, “Lord,” and very properly. But
by adopting the same word as the representative of both, our version has
lost sight of the distinction between them, which is real and important.
The translators have also in some instances confounded in their transla¬
tion, Adhonai, Lord, with Adhoni, my Lord; see Numbers 14: 17; Ezra
10: 3, where from the form of the word, the version would seem to be
speaking of a human, rather than a divine being, as it is in the original.
The name, “ the Jordan,” occurs in the original Scriptures near two hun¬
dred limes, and always has the article, except when in construction with a
definite noun, (Num. 35: 1,) and in a few poetical passages (Ps. 42: 7,
■Job 40: 23;) yet in the version, the rule seems to have been, contrary to
ail usage and propriety, to conceal the article. Hence we have such read¬
ings as these in the version: “the plain of Jordan,” (Gen. 13: 11;) “ Jor¬
dan overfloweth,” (Josh. 3: 15;) “midst of Jordan,” (Josh. 4: 3;) “wa¬
ters of Jordan,” (4: 23;) “beyond Jordan,” (13: 8;) “on the other side
Jordan,” (20: 8;) ‘‘over Jordan, ” (Jud. 10: 9;) “let us go to Jordan,”
(2 K. 6: 2;) “were baptized of him in Jordan,” (Math. 3: 6;) “Then
cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized,” (3: 16.) In order
to see the indefiniteness and impropriety of this method of translation; let
us see how such a style would take in an American History, when speak¬
ing of our principal rivers: “I crossed Ohio;” “he went beyond Tennes¬
see;” “he settled this side of Kentucky;” “they were baptized in Missou¬
ri;” ‘Washington came from VirginiaJo Mississippi to be baptized;’ could
such an anomaly of style, as this, be tolerated in any author ? Or would
any human author permit a translation of his writings, which would attri¬
bute such a style to him ? If not, can it be pleasing to God to have the
definite, inspired, original Scriptures so translated into English ?
In Luke 18: 16, we read; “Suffer little children to come unto me.”
The original requires it to read: “Suffer the little children to come” <fcc.,
which reveals an important difference in a passage relied on often in a cer¬
tain controversy. “Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger,” (Mat.
14: 18.) The original requires it to read; “Give me here the head of John
the Baptist in a charger.” The version not only overlooks the definiteness
of the original; but makes Mathew write John Baptist, as we would write
John Davis, thus turning the inspired account into ridicule. “Even the
spirit of truth,” (John 14: 17.) It should be, “even the spirit of the
truth.” “When he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all
truth,” (John 16: 13.) Properly, “spirit of the truth * * * *
guide you into all the truth.” According to the version these passages
seem to speak of truth in general; the original speaks distinctively of the
gospel truth, as distinguished from truth in general.
Herod “slew all the clhildren that were in Bethlehem, and in all the
coasts thereof,” (Mat. 2: 16.) According to the inspired text, he slew
only all the male children. A marked difference as to the matter of fact.
Does not this need revision "? God “spared not the old world, but saved
Noe the eighth person,” (2 Pet. 2: 5.) The word rendered “eighth per¬
son” in the version, is idiomatic in the Greek, and imports that Noah was
saved with seven others. The English phrase, the eighth person, does not
convey that idea; and, therefore, does not fairly represent the original.
“There shall be one fold and one shepherd’” (John 10: 16.) The version
here favors the Catholic notion of an universal church. It ought to read;
‘There shall be one flock and one shepherd,’ Teaching the oneness of Christ’s
people; a sentiment materially different from that of the version. The ver¬
sion makes the Saviour use a tautology in the last chapter of John’s Gospel
where he is represented as saying twice “ Feed my sheep.” According
to the Greek it ought to read in the one case, “ Tend my sheep,” and in
the other, “ Feed my sheep,” which shows an important and instructive
difference, as was doubtless intended, but is lost to the English reader.
The word “charity,” borrowed from Romish usage, frequently occurs in
the version, where it should be “love” in every instance. In Acts 14: 12
it reads: “They called Paul Mercurius.” According to the Greek, they
called him Hermes. It is implied Acts 19: 37, that the Ephesians brought;
Paul and his companions before an enraged multitude on charge of being
robbers of churches,” but the heathen had no churches. Therefore the
version conflicts with the fact of history. The original presents no diffi¬
culty however, which requires the version to read, “robbers of temples,”
not “churches.” I could greatly add to this class of illustrative proofs of
the want of distinctive fidelity on the part of the version; but I must for¬
bear, and make good the second part of my proposition viz: That the ver¬
sion makes, in some instances, most unwarrantable additions to the text,
and sense of the originals. I have already called attention to the Episco¬
pal comments, “bishopric,” “office of al bishop,” instead of simply of¬
fice, or charge as the original requires; also to the word “Easter,” as a pal¬
pable party corruption of the text; I now invite attention to less accounta¬
ble, but not less reprehensible interferences with the purity and simplicity
of God’s holy word. In 1 Sam. 10: 25; 2 Sam. 16: 16; 2 K. 11: 12; 2
Ch. 23: 11, occurs the Hebrew phrase, Y’hhi hammelekh, which means
simply: Let the King live! or May the King live! The Septuagent has Zeeto
ho Baseleus. The Vulgate has vivat rex: both agreeing with the translation
just given. The common version, however, has “God save the King.”
There is nothing in the original to correspond with the term “God.” It
is an irreverent, human addition. The expression, in the version, is the
English National exclamation of loyalty - ! Its substitution, however cor¬
rupt, in the English Bible, for the pure word of God, may have been grate¬
ful to English taste, and to Kingly vanity: but it can never be proper, or
pleasing to God. In the Turkish New Testament are such additions as
these, “Lady Mary,” “His Majesty,” and “His Excellency Jesus;” but
these are harmless in comparison with the corruption and irreverance of the
translation in question. Surely the common version of republican America
will not continue defaced by a palpable corruption, whose sole object has
-ever been the flattery of English monarchs. The Anglo-American is enti¬
tled to the unadulterated word, which reads, “May the King live.” This,
and this only, is the word of God.
In numerous passages, both in the Old and New Testament, our vex-
sion has the expression ‘‘ God forbid.’ The Hebrew word, which is thus
rendered, is hhalila, an exclamation, which literally means, far be it, or
may it not be. The New Testament Greek phrase, is mee genoito, which is
the exact equivalent of the Hebrew word. They both mean simply, far
be it, may it not be, by no means. In neither the Hebrew, Greek New
Testament, Sep. nor Vulg., is there any thing to correspond with the word
“God,” in the phrase, “ Gocl forbid,” in our version. The version does
not represent the originals at all in this matter. It substitutes an Anglo-
Saxon expression, used in familiar discourse, and which is founded in a fa¬
miliarity with the name of the Deity, involving gross profanity. The ex¬
pression, “God forbid,” is anything but the inspired truth; and, though
found in our English Bible, is a violation of the third commandment.—
The simple inspired, “far be it,” or “by no means,” may just as well be
represented in our version, by “ Christ forbid,” “Spirit forbid,” “Heaven
forbid,” or any other kindred phrase, as “God foi'bid.” All propriety of
rendering is violated by the insertion of such unwarrantable human, I may
say irrelevant additions to God’s inspired truth. If the Holy Spirit had
intended the meaning “God forbid,” he could easily have directed the use
of the Divine name in the originals. Let us not feign to be wiser than
He. Let what He has inspired—fairly represented in our version—satisfy
us; and let us neither add to nor take from. There are other phrases, such
as, “ God speed,” “would to God,” equally unwarranted by the original,
and to be equally condemned as misrepresentations of God’s mind, as giv¬
en by inspiration. Such liberties with the inspired record, as these addi¬
tions involve, are unworthy of Protestant Christianity. Let them be ex¬
punged'as spurious and irreverent.
In the eleventh place, the version is impaired in many instances, on ac¬
count of a defective punctuation, which extends in some cases even to the
originals. The punctuation forms no part of what is inspired. It is
wholly a human device; but of vast importance in interpreting or transla¬
ting. Very much depends on the judgment with which it has been ap¬
plied in determining the sense of the rmpointed ancient MSS. of the text, as
well as in expressing it in our version. Here too, as in many other cases,
the system, as first applied, is but too apt to gain an authority not always
favorable to the free investigation of the truth. Succeeding generations
are too apt to walk in the paths of their predecessors in such matters,
without daring or thinking of questioning them. Notwithstanding this
strong tendency, however, the subject of punctuation has, from time to
time, been sharing considerable attention; and wfith manifest advantage
to the cause of sacred truth. The committee of the American Bible So¬
ciety have altered the curreat. punctuation of the version in several pas¬
sages, so as considerably to affect the sense. Truth required it. They
might have greatly extended their labor in this branch. Other scholars
have long anxiously labored on the original texts; and it is not unreason¬
able to believe that, in this respect, the texts which formed the basis of the
present version near two and a half centuries ago, have, since then, received
some important modifications, which will facilitate the clearer understand¬
ing of some of the obscure passages. Let me call attention to a few
examples, which require modification for the sake of the English reader.
In Ex. 12: 15, the Hebrew text is most unnaturally transposed as ren-
dered in our version; and an obscure and somewhat different sense from
that of the original is given. The proper arrangement, punctuation and
reading is this: “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread, even the first
day shall ye put away leaven out of your houses, (for whosoever eateth
leavened bread, that soul shall be cut off from Israel) from the first day
until the seventh.” (Comp Com. ver.)
Ps. 9: 6, reads in the version thus: “Oh enemy, destructions are come
to a perpetual end, and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is per¬
ished with them.” Here the address is evidently to the enemy, and it is
he who is represented as triumphant. In the original it is Jehovah who is
addressed, and the triumph is ascribed to Him. The verse should be ren¬
dered: “The enemy ! they are ended—desolations forever 1 and their cities
thou hast destroyed—their very memory has perished.” This gives to
the passage an entirely different sense.
Isa. 53: 9, reads: “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with
the rich in his death: because he had done no violence, neither was any
deceit in his mouth.” It would seem from this language that the reason,
why “he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death,”'
was, that he “he had done no violence,” neither had “any deceit in his
mouth.” The following rendering would more accurately and intelligibly
convey the idea of the original: “His grave was appointed with the wicked,
(but he was with the rich in his death) though he had done no violence,
and deceit was not in his mouth.”
John 7: 21, 22 reads: “I have done one work and ye all marvel. Mo¬
ses therefore gave unto you circumcision,” &c. This language seems to
imply an intimate connection between their “marvel” at Christ’s miracle,
and the giving of circumcision, as a Jewish ordinance. But this is absurd
though the propriety of the existence of the word, therefore, on any other
supposition or with any other force, is not easily seen. The true pointing
in the original text, and the evidently designed sense, require the follow¬
ing order and translation in v. 21: “I have done one work and ye all
marvel on account of it.” The twenty-second verse will then commence,
“Moses gave unto you circumcision,” &c. Thus rendered, all confusion
and obscurity vanish.
2 Peter 1: 19, has been the subject of much difficulty with interpreters.
It is difficult to perceive how the “day-star” can be said to rise in their
hearts, and if some accommodated meaning could be attached to this ex¬
pression; the difficulty would still recur. How could they be urged to
take heed to the “sure word of prophecy” till such a rising took place ?
Inattention to punctuation is the probable source of the difficulty. The
introduction of a parenthesis, as follows, would certainly remove it, and
make the passage clear to the plainest mind. “We have a more sure
word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well to take heed (as unto a light that
shineth in a dark place, until the day-star arise,) in your hearts.” Bom.
8: 20, would certainly be simplified by including in a parenthasis the
words “not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same,”
thus, “For the creation was made subject to vanity (not willingly, but by
reason of him who hath subjected it) in hope; because the creation itself
Bom. 9: 1—3, has always been a passage of felt difficulty. It seems, as
it stands in the version, and in the older printed Greek texts, to teach that
Paul actually wished to be accursed from Christ for his brethren; at leas :,
that he would willingly be accursed from him, if it could be so, and good
would accrue to them. The Holy Spirit, even, seems to be represented
as witnessing to the actual existence of this self-sacrificing or rather blas¬
phemous state of mind. By putting the words “for I have wished or did
wish myself to be accursed from Christ,” as the original ought to be ren¬
dered, into a parenthesis, the whole face of the passage looms up with
transparency, intelligent earnestness, and consistency. Thus: “I say the
truth in Christ, and lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the
Holy Spirit, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart
(for I have wished my own self to be accursed from Christ,) for my breth¬
ren, my kinsman Recording to the flesh.” Thus, the passage represents
the Apostle as realizing the awful condition of his Jewish brethren, as the
enemies of Christ, by-recalling the desperate condition of his own former
state, one which he now looks upon as accursed from Christ; and viewing
them thus, he appeals to the Holy Spirit to witness that he had great heav¬
iness andcontinual sorrow of heart for them. This is all natural, clear, ear¬
nest, instructive. I have followed the very best authorities in these sug¬
gestions, but my space will not permit me to name them.
This would be the proper place tc notice the injury, which has been done
to the sense in many parts of Scripture, by the very injudicious man¬
ner in which the division of the text into chapters and verses has been ef¬
fected. The credit of the present arrangement has long been given ro
Robert Stephens, the celebrated Bible printer—though his claim to it is
very doubtful—who, as his son Henry boasts, made it— in equitando—on
horse-back; an intimation which well agrees with the character of the ser¬
vice. A revision on this head, however, would now be very difficult,
owing to the existence of so many Concordances, and other works with
references. Still, could it be effected, it is in itself a great desideratum.
In the twelfth place, the present version contains several instances of
contradiction. Some of them originating in the translation, and some in
manifest corruptions of the original texts. Take the following as speci¬
2 Sam. 8: 4; “And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven
hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen,” <fcc. In the account
of the same matter of fact in 1 Chron-. 18: 4, we read, “And David took
from him a thousand chariots, and seven thousand horsemen, and twenty
thousand footmen,” &c. In the one passage, David is said to have taken
seven thousand horsemen from Hadadezer, in the other seven hundred.
Both statements cannot be true; for both refer to the same fact. The con¬
tradiction has occurred plainly by the careless mistake of some transcriber
of the Hebrew text, who mistook zazin with two dots over it-—the Ma-
soretic representative of 7000, for nun final, the representative of 700.—
The two letters are so much alike, that the mistake is a very natural one.
Critics generally allow the account in Samuel to be the correct one. 2 K.
8: 26, states that Ahaziah was “two and twe'niy years old when he began
to reign.” 2 Chron. 22: 2, says expressly that he was “forty and two
years old when he began to reign.” There is here a plain difference of
'20 years. The letter mem, which represents 40, has been substituted in
Chronicles by some carelessness, for Tcaph which somewhat resembles it,
and whose numerical power is 20. This correction, now generally agreed
upon, should be made, and the unnecessary blemish removed. The pres¬
ent reading in Acts 13: 20, is ii-reconcilable with the chronology of the
Old Testament, as indicated 1 K. 6: 1. Instead of turning their attention
to the punctuation of the passage, critics, especially chronologists, have
until recently, indulged in the most vague theories and conjectures with a
view to the solution of the difficulty. The passage in Acts, ought to read,
‘■And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he
divided their land to them by lot about the space of four hundred and fifty
years; and after this he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet.”—
Thus punctuated and arranged there is no discrepancy expressed or invol¬
ved between it and 1 Kings 6: 1. See Lachmann’s Greek Text. 2
K. 23: 30 says, that Josiah was taken dead from Megiddo to Jerusalem by
his servants. But 2 Chron. 35: 24, shows that he died after reaching Je¬
rusalem. The contradiction originates in this case in the translation. The
former passage should have been rendered dying instead of dead. The
import would then be, that fie was taken from Megiddo in a dying state,
and no contradiction would exist. In Num. 22: 5, Balaam is said to be
the “son of Beor.” But in 2 Peter 2: 15, he is called “the son of Bosov."
The contradiction is palpable, and is unquestionably attributable to the
translators; for the words, “the son, %in Peter, have nothing to correspond
to them in the Greek. In the version they are in Italics, and were inserted
to supply a srtpposed ellipsis; but no ellipsis exists. The original is sim¬
ply, “following,the way of Balaam of Bosor ,”—not Balaam “the son of
Bosor,” as the version has it. Balaam was “the son of Beor” (as Moses
has it) of the city Pethor in Mesopotamia. This city the Syrians, after¬
wards called Bosor. And Peter simply intimates that Balaam belonged to
the city Bosor. No contradiction, therefore, exists, except in the inaccu¬
racy of the version.
I had intended to specify samples of grammatical defects; also, to de¬
vote some space to the consideration of passages, which seem, in the ver¬
sion to impute to God a direct agency in the production of sinful states of
the human mind, (Ex. 4: 21; 9: 12,) and for unworthy ends (Ex. 9: 16;)
also to the consideration of such as teach or seem to sanction dishonesty,
(Ex. 3: 22; 11:2; 12: 35;) and particularly to the consideration of such
passages as seem to breathe a spirit of vindictive imprecation, (Ps. 55:
15; 59: 13-15; 69: 22-28; 2 Tim. 4: 14;) but the length to which I have
already taxed your patience forbids my taking them up. Suffice it to say
that the first sets of passages, under a judicious revision, will be entirely
relieved of the incongruities, which they now seem to involve; and that
the last set, those which contain imprecations, may be modified, some (Ps.
55: 15,) perhaps entirely freed from the seeming obnoxiousness. It should
be distinctly understood, however, that no proper revision will entirely re¬
move this—to many—unwelcome feature. It forms an incidental part of
the economy of redemption, and is inseparable from its inspired history.
When it is taken into account that such utterances are inspired, therefore
not human; that they are the utterances of God himself, they assume an as¬
pect of fitness and propriety, which we are apt to deny them, when over¬
looking their true source.
I have now spread before you an outline—an imperfect outline, I admit
—of the real and apparent defects of the common version. I have en¬
deavored fairly to represent the facts as they seem to me to exist, without
wishing to exaggerate or diminish their number or importance. I have
felt the force of no motive to do otherwise. I too sincerely love inspired
truth to aim, in this enterprise, for anything, hut its advancement. I love
all that is exact and excellent in our version and there is much; but I feel
no inclination to love or cleave to its defects. I would feel for it somewhat
as I would for my own body were I conscious of the existence of impair¬
ing symptoms of disease, I would remove them if possible. I would love
my body whether somewhat diseased or not, nor would I throw it away;
but I would love and enjoy it better, f reed from all its threatening symp¬
toms. I love the version as it is; but I know that I would love it more as
it should be. I will not throw it aside; but I will most assiduously labor
for its perfection.
HISTORY OF REVISIONS OF THE ENGLISH SCRIPTURES.
BV REV. A. DRURY, PROFESSOR OF HEBREW AND ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY
IN THE COVINGTON THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY.
Mr. President:—I rise to offer the following resolution:
Resolved, That the history of revisions fully justifies us in making an
effort to procure a faithful and perspicuous version of the English Scriptures.
It is admitted by all, calling themselves Christians, that the Scriptures,
as delivered in the original Hebrew and Greek, are the Word of God—
that they contain truth without mixture of error—that they are a communi¬
cation from God to man, and that their end is the salvation of the soul.
To these admitted truths we add and believe, that all the truths contained
in the original tongues, can be translated into the English language in
such a manner, that the first ideas suggested to the reader shall be the
true meaning of the words in the original. If this last article of our belief is
true, we need no other motive to impel us forward in the work of revision;
for, even our opponents being judges, many words in the common version
convey ideas the very reverse of the true meaning of the originals, or no
meaning at all. On the history of versions of the English Scriptures, prior
to the issue of the common version, I design to be brief. The whole subject
has of late been fully canvassed and ably discussed. The result of these
investigations has been given to the world. I here remark that we should
not wonder at opposition. It is no matter of surprise. Every attempt to
make the original Scriptures speak their own truths in a living language, has
met with decided opposition. Every inch of ground has been contested.
When Wickliffe attempted to remove the veil, which shut out the light
of God’s truth from the minds of his countrymen, he excited the opposi¬
tion of the existing powers, both spiritual and temporal. The Church,
alike opposed to the right of private judgment and the freedom of the
human mind, had for ages kept her eye fixed upon the very book he had
determined to unveil to his nation. So far as the canons of the Church
could effect it, that book was forever sealed from vulgar eyes. No sooner
was his object known than the cry of heresy — that most fearful of all
sounds in those dark ages—arose from every quarter. He had defied the
Church. But in face of all opposition Wickliffe went forward with his work,
and about the year 1330 completed it; and, feeling that God approved, gave
the first copy of the English Scriptures to his nation and to the world. All
lovers of trnth honor Wickliffe for his efforts in the cause of the Bible. -And
no doubt bis record on high is, He hath done what he could. But Wick-
iiffe’s translation could not Ion" retain its standing. A new translation must
supersede it. Wickliffe, though an extraordinary man and a good Latin
scholar, knew nothing of the original languages of the Bible. He drew
from an impure fountain. His was but the translation of a translation, the
Latin vulgate being the basis of his Bible.
Wicklilfe’s translation appeared just before the dawn of the revival of clas¬
sical literature in Europe, when the original fountains were thrown open and
men invited to drink freely. The Turks had for a long period been sapping
the foundations of the Eastern Empire, and the first half of the fifteenth
century was marked by the influx of many learned Greeks, they having fled
from their own empire now tottering to its fall. These masters of Grecian
literature, bringing their classical stores with them, settled in the West, and
especially in Italy. They were welcomed and patronized by popes, princes
and nobles. Italians devoted their lives to these studies. Their fame
soon spread throughout Europe, and multitudes flocked to Italy that they
might share in those pure streams of knowledge which welled up before
their enchanted vision. These scholars returned and diffused among their
countrymen a taste for Grecian literature. In 1440 the art of printing
was invented, which changed the whole system of book making. Copies
of tlie classics were multiplied as the leaves of the forest, and eagerly
sought by the scholars of that period. Europe seemed as if aroused from
the sleep of ages. But especially did the nations, groaning beneath the load
of superstitious rites which was pressing them to the earth, thirst for
the waters of life. This is seen in the fact that, though the discovery of
a manuscript was regarded almost as the conquest of a kingdom, yet the
Bible was the first book printed on moveable, metallic types. Before the
close of this century the Latin Bible had passed through twenty editions.
Neither was the Hebrew neglected.
Besides portions of the Bible previously printed, the whole was struck o!T
in Hebrew in 1488. In eleven years from that time, not fewer than four
editions of the Hebrew Bible were published, which immediately disap¬
peared, so great was the interest awakened for Hebrew learning. This
increased and increasing: light must have shown that the translation of Wick-
liffe was corrupt and notanswerable to the truth of the original, and that a
new tra nslation was demanded. Besides, as any one may see by comparison,
the English language had, during the fifteenth century, undergone a
very great change, so that even on that account anew translation would have
been necessary. Among that cluster of bright stars, which adorned the
literary firmament of Europe in the first half of the sixteenth century, shone
William Tvndal. As early as A. D. 1319, Wolsey had established
chairs of Rhetoric, Latin and Greek in the University of Oxford, with
ample salaries. During this year, Henry the Eighth transmitted to the
University a royal mandate, commanding that the study of the Scriptures in
the original languages should not only be permitted, but received as a
branch of academical instruction. This was the very period in which
Tyndal was preparing for his great work. Of the use he made of those
golden moments, we have ample proof. The historian of the Bible says,
“The incontrovertible proof of Tyndal’s erudition, whether as a Greek or
Hebrew scholar, is to be found in the present version of our Bible as read
His New Testament was published A. D. 1326, and the Pentateuch, A.
D. 1530. In speaking of the opposition made to his translation of the
Scriptures, these are his reflections: “A thousand books had they rather to
be put forth against their abominable doings and doctrines, than that the
Scripture should come to light. For as long as they may keep that down,
they will so darken the right way with the mist of their sophistry, and so
tangle them, that either rebuke or despise their abominations, with argu¬
ments of philosophy and with worldly similitudes and with apparant reasons
of natural wisdom; and with wresting the Scriptures to their own purpose,
clean contrary to the process, order and meaning of the text; and so delude
them in descanting upon it with allegoiies; and amase them, expounding
it in many senses before the unlearned lay people (when it hath but one
simple, literal sense, whose light the owls cannot abide,) that though thou
feel in thine heart an dart sure, now that all is false that they say, yet
thou couldst not solve their subtile riddles. Which only thing hath moved
me to translate the New Testament. Because I had proved by experience,
how that it was impossible to establish the lay people in any truth, except the
Scriptures were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue, that
they might see the process, order and meaning of the text; for else whatsoever
truth is taught them, these enemies of all truth quench it again, partly with
the smoke of their bottomless pit, that is, with apparent reasons of sophis¬
try and traditions of their own making; and partly in juggling with the
text, expounding it in such a sense as is impossible to gather of the text
itself.” This language was uttered in the sixteenth century, and adapted
to the latitude and longitude of Europe, but it is well suited to the nineteenth,
and to the latitude and longitude of the United States. This translation,
though five times derived, was not free from imperfections. It bears evident
marks of the Latin vulgate. “Tunstall, Bishop of Durham, detected, as he
affirmed, over two thousand depravations and perversions.” This, however.
was a small number, as we shall see, compared with the imperfections which
have been found in the common version. Tyndal’s version was followed
by Coverdale’s Bible, A. D. 1535, an inferior work. Matthew’s Bible, so
called, was published A. D. 1537, made up from Coverdale’s and Tyndal’s.
A. D. 1539 appeared Cranmer’s Bible, as an authorized version. The
Geneva Bible was published, the New Testament A. D. 1557, and the Old
Testament, A. D. 1560. The Bishop’s Bible appeared A. D. 1568, as a
second authorized version. Thus we see that in the space of forty years
six different versions of the English Bible were published. The cause which
produced this rapid succession of versions was, doubtless, the feeling that the
translation ought to be made more consonant to the truth of the original. I
have not thought fit to. dwell upon the history of these several versions,
because they do not bear the impress of any great improvement upon Tyn¬
dal’s version, while they copy his imperfections. A. D. 1603, James YI.
of Scotland, succeeded to the English throne as James I„ At the Hampton
Court conference, held Jan. 1604, “Dr. John Reynolds, a man eminent
for his learning, moved his Majesty that there might be a new translation of
the Bible,” assigning as a reason, “that those which were allowed in the
reigns of king Henry VIII. and Edward YI. were corrupt, and not answer-
able to the truth of the original.” The Bibles chiefly used were the Bishop’s
read in the churches, and the Geneva version used in private families.
Neither of these versions was yet fifty years old. But theywere corrupt—did
not convey the mind of the spirit, and hence those learned men, the like of
whom the world ne’er saw before, nor e’er shall see their like again,
thought it their duty to remove those imperfections or corruptions from the
Scriptures, “that the people might have a version that could not be justly
excepted against.” Whereupon the king expressed a wish, that special
pains should be taken for a uniform translation. It was understood that last
of all the new translation was to be ratified by the royal authority, and so
the whole Church be bound to this translation and not to use any other.
The translation was to be as consonant as possible to the original Hebrew
and Greek. This rule was, however, rendered null by another which
required them to retain the old ecclesiastical words. UDder these circum¬
stances the translators commenced their work, and after the lapse of more
than three years, produced their first draught. This having passed the
ordeal of two sub-committees, and having received the royal sanction, was,
printed and published, A. D. 1611. The translators say in their preface,
“We never thought from the beginning that we should need to make a new
translation, nor yet of a bad one to make a good one, but to make a good
one better.” Such was the origin of the common English version, which
the most eminent biblical scholars, such men as Selden, and Geddes, and
Walton, and Owen, and a host of others, have pronounced the best version
the world ever saw. Each successive age, as scholarship has ripened, has
repeated the same.
Our opponents are loudest in their praises of the common version. Do
they suppose that they can excite an ill feeling in the bosom ot any friend
of version, by any eulogium which they may pronounce upon the common
version of the Bible? In the language of the address of the American Bible
Union: “We love the Bible. No language can express the intensity of our
affection. But we consider a translation to be the Bible only so far as it
is a transcript of the mind of God as conveyed in the inspired Hebrew and
Greek. W T e love the English Bible.” Our love for the Bible is the sole cause
of the present movement. It has brought us from our homes and avocations,
that we may stir up each other’s minds in this good work, and devise the
best means of bringing it to a successful issue. If the immortal John
Reynolds could re-visit his native land, he would, I doubt not, move her
Majesty, that there might be a new translation of the Scriptures, and
that he would assign as a reason: Because that version, which was allowed
in the reign of James I. was corrupt and not answerable to the truth of the
original Hebrew and Greek. The reasons for this revision movement are
seen in the history of the common version. The language, in which this
version is published, has greatly changed. This is the fate of all living
languages, a fact which not only renders a revision necessary at the present
time, but will call for a revision hereafter, so long as a living language is the
medium of communication. An inspired copy of the English Bible in the
language of 1600 would call for a revision in 1850, unless God had stereo¬
typed the English language, as to its grammar and construction—its orthog¬
raphy and the meaning of the words. It is now nearly two hundred and fifty
years since the meeting of the Hampton Court Conference. In the meet¬
ing at which Dr. Reynolds made his motion, the historian of the Bible says:
“To which motion there was no gain-saying at present; the objections being
trivial,'old, already in print and often refuted. Only my Lord of London,
Bancroft, well added. That if every man’s humor was to be followed there
would be no end of translating.” That which Bancroft feared has come
upon us. There is no end of translating. And why? The Scriptures are
marred by obscurities, partly owing to errors in translating, and partly to
changes in the language. The following, among other reasons, we assign,
why we are fully justified in making an effort to procure a faithful and per¬
spicuous version ot the English Scriptures:
I. The infidel has pointed his bitterest shafts against its errors in translation
and chronology. He has branded God’s best gift to man as priest-craft
and a lie. This is known to every well informed man. What has been the
result? On the one band, thousands have been drawn into the meshes of
their sophistry and have perished. Thousands more are entangled and are
on their way to perdition. Love for the souls of our fellow men demands
that we should wrest this weapon of destruction from the hands of infidels.
On the other hand, no friend of the Bible has attempted to controvert the
positions of the infidel, till he first prepared for himself a stand-point in a
revised version. But though the infidel thus treats the Bible, it may well say,
“Save me from my professed friends, who so bitterly oppose the removal
of those errors and blemishes, which expose me to the shaft of infidelity.”
II. Those very men, who have pronounced the highest eulogiums upon
the common version, have most emphatically expressed their conviction that
it needed a revision. During the last hundred years, such men as McKnight,
Geo. Campbell, Wesley, Doddridge, Clark, Lowtb, and our own Stuart,
Alexander and Barnes, with a multitude of others, have been pointing out
these errors. Not a commentator upon the English Scriptures, but has felt
it to be his duty to alter and amend the common version. The late Prof.
Stuart, in his new version cf the Romans, has corrected fifteen out of every
sixteen verses. Barnes has done much the same in his new translation of
the prophecies of Isaiah. Others have made similar corrections. These are
but specimens. These men are voluminous writers upon the Scriptures. If
the common versions are so very free from errors and imperfections, our op¬
ponents ought, in consistency, to gather up these commentaries—to preach a
crusade throughout English Christendom, and, holding up these new versions
to the gaze of the multitude, to call upon them to see “what rents their im¬
pious hands have made.” But no; not a man has raised his voice against
them. Even our bitterest opponents eagerly purchase and cheerfully recom¬
mend them. Our reviews are swollen with critiques and encomiums upon
these learned men and their works.
III. The American Bible Society, composed of different denominations,
in 1347 appointed a committee to collate (which is, being interpreted, revise ,)
the English Scriptures. This committee, having labored more than three
years upon the common version, reported the correction of nearly twenty-
four thousand errors of greater or less magnitude. That Society has issued
an amended version, from which they have removed twenty-four thousand
errors. What ruin would have ensued, if we had done the same thing. The
Baptist denomination would have been annihilated! Yet that Society con¬
fesses, that even all known errors have not been removed. The principles of
revision which they adopted forbade it. This furnishes a strong reason why
.hose, who are not troubled with such principles, should engage in the work.
IV. But this is not all. In the words of an eloquent advocate of a pure
version, though speaking upon a different subject: “Men, who would not be
permitted to lay a shoulder of mutton on God’s ancient altar, feel authorized
to carve and mangle the word of God from week to week. The scattered
members whiten all the plains of Christendom. Such dabbling tends to throw
discredit upon the truth of the Scriptures; and were it not, that the eternal
years of God are hers, long since the Bible must have sunk into utter oblivion,
or have been remembered only as an old book upon which every theological
quack bad tried his scalpel. This furnishes a still stronger reason why the
work of revision should be carried forward.
> V. The common English version, following the footsteps of the English
language in its journey round the world, is meeting in its course the trans¬
lations of our missionaries in heathen lands. One such meeting has taken
place. These two versions met in the palace of the king of Siam, both
claiming to be, and both declared, by the missionaries, to be the word of the
everliving God, and yet they contradict each other. This King is said to be
an, intelligent man and well versed in the English language. In such a
case would he not reason thus: “Both of these versions cannot be the Word
of God; for they contradict each other. One must be false and both may
be. The same men have brought us both of these versions and assert that
both are true.” Under such circumstances the mind of the king must- lose
confidence, either in the woi'd of God, or the missionary, or in both. Either
of which would be most disastrous to the cause of truth. This simple inci¬
dent may arouse the prejudices of the king and cause him to shut up his
mind, and his kingdom, as far as in him lies, against truth, virtue and
Christianity. This will not remain an isolated case. Such instances must
often occur; and eternity alone can tell the evil. consequences. But apart
from the evil results, which must happen to the onward progress of christian-
ty in heathen lands, consistency, honesty and truth, all demand, in the
name of heaven’s insulted King, that such imperfections should be removed
from the common version. This furnishes the strongest possible reason, why
this work of revision should be brought to as speedy a consummation as the
magnitude and importance of the work will permit. This is a work of neces¬
sity and mercy. We should have supposed that every friend of the Bible
would have promptly responded to the call for a revised version of the Eng¬
lish Bible. But the American Bible Society had said, It is not in me. They
have told us plainly, that they have done what they could, though they have
left known errors to deface it Their principles forbid them to go any farther.
The American and Foreign Bible Society have said. It is not in me. Why do
they make this reply? Is it because they see no imperfection in the common
version? No—far other wise. But, say they, “it is foreign to our principles—
there is danger of violating our principles, and our principles do n<3t require it
of us as a duty.” Such priuciples we do not understand. They separated
themselves from the American Bible Society, because that Society refused to aid
in the circulation of honest versions among the heathen. They were willing
to circulate an imperfect version among those who speak the English longue,
even where it contained twenty-four thousand more errors that the revised
version of A. B. Society. But have they no fixed principles? Yes, verily.
It seems to be a well established principle with them to offer the bitterest
opposition to those whose principles lead them to this work as their highest
duty to God and their fellow-men. It seems also to be a fixed principle
with the A. and F. B. Society, to circulate imperfect and ambiguous ver¬
sions of the Bible among those who speak the English language. “The
very head and front of our offending” seems to be that we wish to give a pure
version of the Word of God to those who speak the English tongue—that we
are desirous to place them, in this respect, on the same footing with the Hin¬
doo and the Hottentot.
But it is said, “The work is vain, because 'perfection cannot be attained.”
As well might we say, because we cannot banish all sin from the world and
convert every man into an angel, therefore we will do nothing to ameliorate
the condition of our fellow men. This objection, carried out to its legitimate
results, would disband all our benevolent societies, call home all our mission¬
aries, vacate our pulpits, close our Sabbath schools, stop our printing press¬
es, unnerve every arm, write J.chabod upon our free institutions, and seal
over the human family to the blackness of darkness forever. It is also object¬
ed, “that the application of our principle, carried to its legitimate results,
would justify the British and Foreign Bible Society in the attempt to trans-
late the New Testament into the corrupted, mongrel negro dialect of the
West Indies, with all its characteristic violations of grammar, orthography
and construction.” This objection seems to suppose that the first act of the
missionary is to print the Bible in the language of the heathen just as he finds
it; then circulate it, and the work is done. I had supposed that schools,
spelling books and dictionaries preceded the circulation of the Bible. That,
while the future translator was acquiring the language and translating the
Bible, the youth and children were learning to speak and read their own dia¬
lect correctly. But suppose they do speak a mongrel dialect, disfigured by
violations in grammar, orthography and construction, and that they can be
taught no other. What shall we do? Let them perish in their sins or
give them the Word of Life in a corrupted, mongrel dialect? Why, let them
perish of course. The Bible must speak in accordance with all the rules
of grammar, orthography and construction, save when it speaks in the English
tongue. Iii which case it matters not. Our opponents suppose that all
our anxiety and zeal has respect to that old English word Baptize; hence,
in the plenitude of their love they have prescribed two infallible remedies,
either of which will make the word mean just what we wish. “All that
is requisite is simply to use the term in such a manner as not to leave on
the minds of those whom we address the impression that we admit any¬
thing to be really baptism, but immersion.” The advice seems to be this,
that if the clergy follow this prescription carefully, the laity, poor simple souls,
will never suspect that the word baptize is equivocal—such a prescription
smells strongly of the dark ages and is worthy of a Gregory IX. This doc¬
tor tells us here that baptism is equivalent to immersion. In another pre¬
scription he tells us immersion is not equivalent to baptism. Verily the
legs of the lame are not equal. There is however another remedy quite as
potent as the last and from the same mint. “Insist upon the old mean¬
ing of the word baptize, and the time will soon come when its ancient use
will be its only recognized use.” Well, this world has produced some
very great men! Xerxes, King of Persia, was one of these great men.
When about to invade Greece he ordered a bridge of boats to be thrown
across the Hellespont. After the bridge was completed the angry waves,
not having the fear of this very great king before them, destroyed the bridge.
Xerxes was so enraged that he gave orders that the strait should be scourg¬
ed and a set of fetters cast into it. The remedy proposed is a second
attempi to fetter the Hellespont and would prove about as successful. I have
alluded to these objections and remedies merely to show their weakness and
futility. In every light in which this subject can be viewed, with all the
objections before us, we are but the more deeply impressed with the con¬
viction, that the history of revisions fully justified us in making an effort
to procure a faithful and perspicuous version of the English Scriptures.
REVISION OF THE ENGLISH SCRIPTURES.
BY REV. THOMAS ARMITAGE, PASTOR OF THE NORFOLK ST. BAPTIST CHURCH,
Mr. President:— It is to me, sir, a matter of great joy that I am per-
mitted to stand side by side, to-day, with so many devoted and eminent
men of the great South and South-west, on the impregnable platform, and in
the noble advocacy of faithful versions of the word of God for all men.
And that joy is not a little augmented in the consideration that, so far as
the adoption of the great principle for which we contend, is concerned,
those men are not the votaries of a new and ill-digested scheme. Far from,
being frenzied in first love, or blinded by inconsiderate enthusiasm—far
from rushing into an unmeasured chimera, or a flippant abstraction—they
are the deliberate advocates of a long cherished and heartfelt truth —
namely, that God as God, has a right to speak in his own words; and that
man as man, has a right to read in his own tongue, the wonderful words ■
and works of his Maker.
For the application of this apostolic principle, some of these fathers and
brethren have long hoped, and prayed, and plead. After counting well
the cost, they have consecrated the powers of their minds, the recources
of their learning, their worldly goods, and their hallowed influence, to a
determined warfare upon the autocratic dictations of tradition, and a life
and death struggle for unobscured truth. Notwithstanding the vascillation
to which men are subjected, and the changes which they indulge, not only
from questionable motives and local contingencies, but also from oft-repeat¬
ed tests of assumed truths, in the crucibles of loss, and logic, and experi
ence, sometimes heated to an intensity seven times hotter than their accus¬
tomed action—J say despite of all this, I find the same men who planted
themselves on this rock in 1838, with “ The Bible Translated,” inscribed
upon their banner, still ready, if need be, to die at the flag-staff. There¬
fore, while I may indulge in self-congratulation on the happiness of being
with you to-day, allow me, sir, to congratulate yourself and your venerable
coadjutors, on the unswerving steadfastness you have ever maintained to
this heaven-born principle, and the brightening prospect that your fidelity
will not, after all, lose its reward.
On the 4th of March, 1838, certain friends of untrammelled truth, met
at Talbotton, in the State of Georgia, and formed a Bible Society auxiliary to
the American and Foreign Bible Society. After solemn prayer and de¬
liberation, that body unanimously
“ Resolved , That we approve of the resolution of the American and For¬
eign Bible Society, to give to all nations, the pure word of God, without
addition or diminution, alteration or concealment of one of God’s words.”
Rev. William Carey Crane, your present able Secretary, was also ap¬
pointed a delegate to the State Convention of Georgia, to enlist its energies
in this holy work.
The same year, an auxiliary Society in Louisiana made the same avowal,
and in February, a voice from this very State of Tennessee, was heard
cheering on the parent Society in these words—“The Baptists here be¬
lieve that the word baptizo means lo dip, to plunge, to immerse; and that it
should be so explained, in all lands wherever the Bible is read.”
September of the same year furnished a declaration from several Baptist
Associations in Ohio, that they “highly approved of the American and For¬
eign Bible Society, for the purpose of giving entire, and without restriction or
limitation, the oracles of God to the whole population of the Globe, in every
language under heaven, faithfully translated, and as soon as circumstances
in God’s providence will permit.”
Michigan said by her State Convention, during the same month, that she
desired the Society to “be left untrammelled by anything in the Constitution,
in giving the whole Bible to the whole WORLD.”
By way of endorsement of all these statements, the Baptists of Arkansas;
“Resolved, That we correspond by letter, with the American and For¬
eign Bible Society, and we unanimously agree to request said Society, (as
far as their means will permit) to furnish these United States, as well as
other nations, with a pure translation from the original Hebrew and Greek,
of the Holy Scriptures.”
The Baptists of Arkansas favorable to missions, have but one voice on this
momentous subject. They believe the time has fully come, and that eternal
truth speaks to the denomination in language not to be disregarded, that
the world, yea! the “whole world, should have a literal translation of the
To these, and other like communications, the Board responded as “greatly
encouraged,” And, sir, you who passed these resolutions were greatly
encouraged too. Flor was it until the parent society
“Resolved , That it is not the province and duty of the American and
Foreign Bible Society to attempt on their own part, or to procure from oth¬
ers, a revision of the commonly received English version of the sacred
Scriptures,” which version is palpably unfaithful, if so be, that the Asiatic
versions which they patronize are found faithful before God—it was not until
this inconsistency was adopted that your expectations failed. Then, sir,
sorrow and fear took hold upon you, You wept because truth had fallen
in the streets, and consistency was immolated as a new victim on the bloody
altar of expediency and tradition.
But we hail you this day in behalf of the American Bible Union, whose
interest we have the honor to represent in this body, upon a revival of your
hopes, and bid you lift up your heads, for the redemption of the living
word draws nigh, and is even at the doors; and ye who went forth weep¬
ing, bearing precious seed, so many years ago, shall doublless come again
with joy, bringing your sheaves with you. You fathers, have long waited
for that redemption, and it shall come to pass, that as you press to your
hearts the precious treasure, and turn your faces Zion-ward, you shall take
up this song in your closing pilgrimage, “My soul doth magnify the Loid,
and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour. Now Lord lettest thou
thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”
Excuse these preliminary remarks, and permit me, sir, to offer the fol¬
lowing as the last resolution, of this memorable Convention:
Resolved, That in this effort to procure a pure version of the sacred
Scriptures in the English tongue, we discover a work eminently worthy
of the exalted aspirations of the human mind; and of the vigilant Eye which
has preserved the Text in unadulterated purity unto this day—and as an
efficient agency in accomplishing the holy purpose of the Father, in the
establishment of Christ’s Kingdom on the earth, such versions must at once
invoke the unqualified approval of the human conscience, and reflect bound¬
less honor upon the infinite Inspirer himself; by extorting from individual
and universal humanity, the undisguised confession, “Thy word is very
pure,” and from every regenerate heart, the grateful response “therefore thy
servant loveth it.”
You will observe, sir, that the first clause of this resolution contemplates
the objects of this Convention, as worthy of the noblest aspirations of the
human mind. And here, I need not descant upon the marvelousness of
those aspirations—-in their complexity—in their vigor—in their conquests.
You know well, how the mind is capable of comprehending the visible, and
compassing the invisible. You recognize its profound powers of analysis and
invention—its mighty energies to reason and decide—and its passion for
ransacking every labyrinth of wisdom, under the sun, subject to no code of
laws but its own, which are as arbitrary and unalterable as those of the
Medes and Persians. You ken its multiplied capacities, and capabilities, and
elevated reachings. You discover that in its estimation, the mists of dark¬
ness are all one with the floods of light—restraint is all one with boundless
freedom to range in unexplored domains—and the cubical dimensions of an
atom, are all one with the unmeasured expanse of the universe. It shames,
it scorns, to be cloistered in the habitations of man—in the chambers of
purity:—and summoning its expansive understanding—its profound emo¬
tions—its acute sensibilities into a self-created fellowship, it spreads its pin¬
ions to outstrip the sun, and soar to seek riper intimacies, and grander
demonstrations of truth, in sympathy with the impulses of Infinite mind.
Thus, entering into audience with Omniscience, the aspiring mind rises
above all mere forms of thought, and systems of philosophy, to receive the
mysteries and revelations of inspiring truth, until petrifying emotion enchains
every power, as by the spell of magic—and their accelerating it into the
arcana of divinity, suspends consciousness by oppressive sublimity, and man
is immersed into the pure truth of the living God. Never does the mind
of man so develope its holiest aspirations as when enwrapt in the contem¬
plation of unadulterated truth. If purity be not loved here, it is because
sin, or prejudice, or some other foreign and malevolent power, prevents a
clear discovery of its inherent value. There are so many beauties, and ex¬
cellences, and graces expressed in the very countenance of transparent
truth, that no eye can discover them without delight; while the visage of
truth adulterated, is so monstrous and full of deformities, that if her lovers
were not blind, they would stagnate with astonishment and disdain. Sir,
what is it but unmingled purity that gives heaven its charm—God His
adoration—Christ His merit—the Spirit his sovereignty—the Bible its vi¬
tality—the Church its potency—and man his salvation? Banish from the
universe this immaculate virtue, and what is left of faith in God, but blind
absurdity—of bliss in heaven, but empty pageantry—of sanctity on earth,
but refined hypocriey? It waa the loss of purity that converted a seraph
into a devil, man into a traitor, and Eden into a cursed desolation. And,
sir, if your benevolent heart would fain celebrate anew the coronation and
enthronement of Satan himself, upon an arch-angel’s seat—if you would
convert the bottomless pit into a Paradise, and thrill the concaves of per¬
dition with the hosannahs of jubilee—restore but the unrivalled reign of pu¬
rity, and it is done!
While the presence of purity, unalloyed, exercises the prerogatives of
a presiding genius—in the elements of nature—in the march of science—in
the school of morals, and in the temples of religion—man is ever inspired
with hope, and warmed with assurance. Though the physical atmosphere
which he breathes, may present singular aspects and strange phenomena,
reminding him that he is a pilgrim and a stranger, far away from bis borne,
let him but breathe a pure air, and be is content. Though the conduct
of bis fellow-men towards him may be unwonted and inexplicable, let him
be assured that the motives which prompt it are pure motives, and what
were otherwise intolerable can be endured with cheerfulness. Let the af¬
fection which clings to him be never so uncouth, and unadorned, and erra¬
tic, only convince him that it is pure affection, and it will be reciprocated.
With all persons, in all stations, and at all times, purity is desirable and
admirable. Every other coveted excellency may perchance be wanting, and
this may be the only ornament of the mind—yet, like a lone glittering star
in a pitchy night, it gleams with the more effulgent splendor for its isola¬
tion. I care not what may have been a man’s origin—what bis advantages
—or what his pursuits ; he may have been born in a palace or cradled
in a lmt; he may have been educated at a university or in a log-cabin; he
may be a young prince or a young plebeian: let him be pure in his prin¬
ciples, pure in his practices, pure in his professions, pure in his purposes,
and he will be stamped with honor, be will be chosen to glory; for his soul,
his body, his joys, his all, are imbued with the resplendent excellency; and
the lips of Him who spake as never man spake, have already uttered over
him the benediction of Divinity: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they
shall see God.”
But, sir, let me take higher ground than this. Not only is uncorrupted
purity desirable and admirable, to all shades and complexions of truly as¬
piring mind, but in anything that pertains to religion; such mind cannot, it
will not be satisfied with that which falls short of it. This is what gives
pre-eminence to the Bible over all other books, with the reflecting and
the appreciative. When Sir Walter Scott returned from the bland climate
'Of Italy, to die among his own native hills, he said to Lockhart, his son-in-
law, “Bring me a book.” “What book?” he inquired. “Can you ask
what book?—there is but one!" replied the prolific author. His mighty soul
recognized the Holy Book, a divine effulgence from the “Father of lights;”
the reflected image of the mind; the perfections of the Eternal—illuminating
humanity, and quieting its immortal cravings. Its legitimate and powerful
springs of action had laid bare to him, in glowing contemplation, his high
and eternal destiny, and the bearings of his present condition upon it.
Remembering the unspotted purity of God’s book in contrast with his own
undying productions, he exclaimed in death, “there is but one loo!:!” And,
sir, how far was he wrong? Talk you of successful rivalry here? Yo, no.
It is well if the greatest genius that ever lived, had penetration enough
to fathom the abyss of its sense, or sufficient elevation of soul to rise even
on the wino-s it lends him to its towering altitudes. Flow comes it to nass
that certain portions of sacred Scripture, quoted by Young and Addison,
under all the disadvantages of an imperfect translation, shine in the midst
of their beautiful periods and commanding sentiments like burning jewels set
in wood or common clay? Looking at the Bible, even through this very
defective medium, you discover more beauty in one part—more pathos in
another—and more simplicity and sublimity in all—than the most exquisite
productions of human sagacity present, in their original dress! There is in
this celestial composition, a naturalness and a delicacy, an exactness and an
elevation, to which the universally idolized classics are entire strangers.
True, in those wonderful productions you see the acme of improvement to
which the unaided efforts of man can ascend. You see productions so highly
finished that you can scarcely disturb and replace a single thought or a
single word without a sensible loss. And yet with all this, how stiff, and la¬
bored and languid they appear, when contrasted with the pure word of God
in its splendid originals. The cadence of every period and the adjustment
of every phrase, exhibit the art with which their authors penned them.
But in the Inspired Word, no attempt is made at impertinent amusement by
minute and polished phraseology. But while the force of thought may
be conveyed to the intellect in a rough and masculine dress, the naked
truth appeals to the heart with a power and demonstration not to be resist¬
ed, and literally takes man-soul by storm. Human address requires art and
embellishment to endue it with strength. But God communicates with the
soul by spirit and by thought alone, and only uses words for a memorial of
what He communicates. When He condescends to employ the human ve¬
hicle, he rejects its proffered adornments and vouchsafes its use merely for
conveyance. So that in the literal verbage of Scripture, man reads clearly
the inalienable rights of his Maker and the responsibilities of his own be¬
ing. Here, sir, in this biblical simplicity and plainness, we are furnished with
a public key by which all are invited to unlock the richest treasures of
instruction. When Christ wrought the Gospel miracle on the five barley
loaves, his disciples said, “What are these among so many?” “Make the
men sit down,” said the Lord of the feast, and they all sat down upon the
emerald bosom of the same field—wise men and simple—peasants and phi-
losophers—Eabbies and hirelings—besides women and children, and they
did all eat and were filled.” So, in like manner, the unadulterated truth
of God, though course as barley bread, adapts itself to the wants of all.
Or like some rich composit Corinthian metal, it yields iron for the hus¬
bandman’s spade, and gold for the monarch’s sceptre. Or like a flood
of life, raises all men higher and higher, to offer incense on the brow of the
Alps from which it first descended until the mountain tops are seen smoking
before them, but smoking because God has descended upon them!
Again, sir: love of purity, enlarges and expands the human mind itself,
rendering it thereby worthy of its great origin. Nothing is so well adapted
to endow the mind with vigor, or so likely to elevate its tendencies, as to
familiarize it with pure and stupendous truths. Broad and massive disclos¬
ures of truth bestir the spirits of mankind to attain dimensions worthy of
man. The revelations of a God, of another world and of a wonderous
natal immortality after we enter it—draw out the capacities of the soul,
league after league, to fathom the oceans, and scale the heights—and weigh
the mysteries, and measure the expanses of eternity. Let a man with an
awakened pulsation of spirit attempt to grapple with a ponderous truth, as
for example the existence and person of God or the majestic unfoldings of
His mind in the precise tones he gave them forth fresh from the pavilion of
infinite thought: and as he progresses in journeying and spanning and mas¬
tering the mighty theme, he will electrify every nerve, and give his soul a
type of outstretching mightiness which utterly forbids contraction back to
its original measure. Sir, it was an expansion similar to this, which first
induced our Judsons and Careys and a thousand others to exile themselves
from home, and often from civilization to pitch their tents under the scorch¬
ing sun of the equator; or build their snowy mounds amid the eternal ice
of the poles! With their lives in their hands, they sought identity with men,
in ignorance like brutes, in guilt like fiends. There they have devoted their
health and strength, and most elastic days, to the study of barbarous jar¬
gon under all kinds of difficulties and dangers, that they might translate
from the Hebrew and the Greek, which they had spent years in acquir¬
ing, the book of God; by which the savage himself might know in his
own wild dialect or tongue, the law of God, and the love of God, and the
whole duty of man. Sir, it was an expansion like this, which first spoke out
in thundertones to the Baptists of the United States, to wake up the courage
of heroism, and sacrifice in their high vocation by demanding an eternal
severance between God’s Word and Popish artifice, and by protesting first to
them that are near, and then to them that are afar off, that “the Word of
God is not, and can not, and shall not be bound!”
I appeal: are not faithful versions of that Word as worthy of such minds,
as I such minds are worthy of their Maker? I appeal: can any unbandag¬
ed, any unmanacled mind claim anything less? I appeal: if enlightened
reason dictates conformity to the heavenly world, will not that man who
thirsts for perfection here be most surely an approachant to its benign eleva¬
tion? Sometimes a ship’s crew see the land they are approaching, distinctly
mirrored upon the clouds above them long before they reach the shore.
And, so may the most unlettered man who fully comprehends the mind of
the Spirit in a pure version of His Word, whether it be Burman, Spanish,
French or English, •‘behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord and be chang¬
ed into the same image even from glory unto glory,” long before he sees
God face to face. The more fully he is able to roll back the clouds which
obscure the throbbings of the Divine mind, the more vividly a supernatural
oratory will overwhelm him with a sense of his own dwarfishness and
awaken within him the intensest eagerness to plant his feet in the vibrating
center of the untrodden solitudes of truth. Who then is commissioned to
sit as umpire and decide what portions of this race shall be blessed with
such perfect transcripts of the mind of Godhead, and who shall be denied?
What man is competent to say that the chamberlain of the Queen of Can¬
dace shall read the pure Word of God as he journeys in his chariot through
the desert—the son of Ham as he roves in his African wilds—and the Chin¬
aman in his dense cities—and the [Birman in his intricate jungles—and the
Indian in his sombre forests; all, all shall read its mysteries and sacred obli¬
gations, but the Celt and the Saxon in his American home; or if he reads
it at all it shall be in a more obscure and uncertain form than on any other
spot upon the globe? Tell me, sir, are you ready to renounce the Divine
right of private judgment? Will you refuse to any man the Bible as the
Spirit penned it, lest it should prove to him a perfect rule of faith and of
practice? I turn to you, sir, and beseech that you will divulge to me the
secret of this refusal to me, and to my children, and to my people. What
have we done to meiit this declinature at your hands? Is it because we
are not Druids? Is it because we are not Musselmen? Is it because we
never bowed the knee at the shrine of Confucius, or Bramah, or Juggernaut,
or Moloch,. or Baal? If I bind on my sandals and take up my staff and
go on a pilgrimage to Pekin, or Rangoon, or Calcutta, or Mecca, will you
deny me and my people there? If I send my children to the mission schools
of your learned Dean, or your kind-hearted Kincaid, or your indefatigable
Shuck, will you exclude them there from the “faithful Word,” simply be¬
cause American blood flows in their veins, and nervous English falls from
their lisping tongues? Well, well, but hold. You have spared me this toil
and exile. I find in my book case a copy of your Burman Bible stained
with the tears of Judson, as he translated its last “Amen.” It is enough.
It is opened. It is read. Our whole family is happy. With him we weep
for joy. It is as if another gift had been reached down to us from the
heaven of heavens to the top of Sinai or Olivet. A gift engraved by the
style of heaven upon leaves from the tree of life, and it is given to Asia for
the healing of her nations. Blessed Book! Blessed saint whose tears be-
dewed it! Sleep on in thy fathomless tomb and let the million hearts of
Burmah unite their acclaims to call thee blessed, while the surges of the
Indian Ocean chant thy requiem. Rest! warrior, rest! until the trump of
the Captain of our salvation shall call many sons to glory, then the green
weeds of thy rocky bed shall be transmuted into a laurel crown, to rest
upon thy brow an eternal testimony of love to Christ! But why talk I thus?
Why this triumph, and why this joy? Hark! Hark! While Burmah
jungles echo with praise and Burman hearts swell with gratiude, and “the
sacramental hosts of God’s elect” in this land rejoice for the time of the
battle, a voice ‘loud as many thunders bids me put up this sword ‘into its
sheath,” for they that use such a sword here, shall perish with it! The coin
of Burmah is not current in America, and the two-edged sword of victory
there, is tempered down into a sectarian guerilla-blade here, by a power
of logical transmutation which paints a blush on the most icy-coated side of
the Philosopher’s stone ! 0 tell it not in Siam, publish it not in the
streets of Memphis, lest the King of Siam should stumble, and John of
York should triumph!
The watchful eye of God has sacredly guarded the original text from cor¬
ruption unto this day. What a remarkable jealousy of Divine Providence
is evinced in that, when, the canon of revelation was completed the lan¬
guages in which it had been penned, fell almost immediately into disuse. For
inasmuch as language itself has no signification whatever, excepting what it
acquires conventionally, it is capable of constantly changing its sense and appli¬
cation. But in this case a beneficent provision was made in anticipation of
this contingency, by numbering those tongues with the unprogressive things
that had passed away. So that precisely what every word meant at the
time it was used by the inspired pen, it should mean to the end of time.—
In the originals you have God’s mind given in his own autograph, and in the
disuse of those tongues for general purposes you have that autograph ste¬
reotyped for ever. Therefore all faithful translations from it must of ne¬
cessity be a mere echo of the thoughts and actions expressed by the Inspirer
himself at that remote period; and as nothing can please an infinite purity
but that which is pure, we may in no wise intermingle divine truth with hu¬
man error. We hold moreover that the very words of the originals were chosen
by the Spirit, and that every form of verbiage was pregnant with significancy.
Here we find a rare basis for confidence. Every single sentence and every
single word is the authoritatve voice of Heaven. Otherwise we could never
be positive as to what God uttered, and what was supplied from the human
fount. Christ said to His disciples, “When they bring you unto the syna¬
gogues and unto magistrates and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing
ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Spirit shall teach you in
the same hour what ye ought to say.” Likewise at Pentecost; the Spirit not
only indited the thoughts of Peter, but also inspired his very words as he
preached to the people, and yet all the style of Peter is seen in those words.
They could have done nothing in preaching to men from all nations under
heaven with the thoughts which the Holy Spirit conceived, without the words
which the Holy Spirit speaketh. It was the Spirit's word which extorted
from the self-execrated Jews the cry for salvation. It matters nothing, sir,
that we discover diversity of style in the sacred writers. We see diversity
in all God’s productions, both of matter and of mind and we might as well
deny the creative energy of God in producing two individual varying minds
as to deny His controlling agency over the varying productions of those minds
or of the same mind. And yet in the most profusely created diversity we
see pei'fect unity. An inward organic coherence pervades the whole. Ko
man who believes in plenary inspiration at all, will deny that God himself
did choose in general the Hebrew for the Old, and the Greek for the Hew
Testament. Ho man will say that this was the mere choice of the aman¬
uensis. But, sir, there is no such impassable gulf between the diversified
styles of composition in the same Testament, as we find in the elemental
construction of these incongruous tongues: and still as perfect a sulstratic
unity exists between the two Testaments as can possibly exist between the
writings of any two penmen in any two books of either Testament. The
widest scope of imagination cannot conceive of greater variety and unity
blended together than is found here. The voice of the Spirit is heard in
every form of conveyance. How in the poetic and then in the historic. How
in the didactic and then in the prophetic. How in the tone of a priest or a
prince and then of a shepherd or a fisherman, until every form of composi¬
tion in which language gives birth to thought finds its archetype; and all
fraught with simplicity and emboweling the profoundest truths. Such a work,
sir, was worthy of the majesty of its Author, and is analagous to that rich
and promiscuous variety which prevails in the entii e universe and which awes
the mind of man, and ministers to his complicated wants!
Again, sir. It is a remarkable fact, that while the originals have passed
through more dangers, encountered more attacks from covert and open
foes, and been more keenly scrutinized both by sanctified and skeptic minds
than any other book under heaven, yet they are the most perfect, pure and
unmutilated productions on the face of the earth. As a refiner subjects the
ore to the most searching process to detect the presence of base metal, and
as the vile is thus purged out by the action of fire until his own image
is reflected hi the precious treasure, so the Word of the Lord has been
thrown from crucible to crucible in search of falsehood and deceit until all
such attempts are rendered proverbially important for their nothingness.
Bear in mind, sir, that thirty-three centuries have passed away since men
began to copy them. That more hands have wearied and heads ached and
pens worn out in transcribing and translating them, in expounding and de¬
fending them, than have been devoted to any other human enterprise what¬
ever. Bear in mind that they have been proscribed, imprisoned, interdicted
and burned by infidels, pagans and papists from Dioelesian, down to the
Lake Cham'Iain bonfires. False legends, forged books, attempted inter¬
polations, and politico-ecclesiastic traditions, labored with might and main to
supplant them through the unbroken period of the seventh, and eighth, and
\ ninth centuries. Bear in mind that the confederated malice of earth and
hell has ever extended letters patent to the inventors of racks and thumb¬
screws, to the architects of gibbits and inquisitions, and blazing faggot piles,
and have howled in horrid diapason the infernal Te Deum of damnation.
When the merest beggar has agonized in martydom (for the Word’s sake,)
and the sacred manuscripts have glowed in the flames with him, as a torch
to light him to glory. Bear in mind that senates, and cabinets, and thrones
have consolidated their prerogatives with the laws of councils, to nulify or
annihilate them; and yet we have them to-day in their uncompounded pu¬
rity. Think, sir, how God has permitted the Jew and the Samaritan, the
Israelite and the Christian, the Protestant and the Papist, to exercise over
each other a sleepless jealousy, lest a jot or a tittle of their words should
be disturbed. And as a consequence, we find in a critical examination of
many thousands of manuscripts scarcely a single deviation which would vi¬
tiate a point of doctrine, a point of morality, or an essential truth !
And now, sir, let me ask for what other purpose God has preserved the
inspired text from corruption, if it be not that every man may read it, faith¬
fully translated, into his own tongue ? This, then, is what we desire, that
all may partake of the spring of life flowing through a pure channel, just as
it gushes from the throne, clear as crystal. We want all to see the sun in
his own light, without being compelled to gaze upon him through mists and
In the days of Latimer, the Romish zealots could not endure that the
common people should have the Word of God at all. Therefore (in keep¬
ing with the spirit of the age,) once on a time, the celebrated Dr. Bucking¬
ham undertook to prove from the pulpit in which Latimer preached, that
it was inexpedient to translate the Scriptures into English, lest haply, the ig¬
norant and vulgar people should leave their respective vocations; and, as
he expressed it, “run into divers inconveniences.” “Thus,” said he, “for
example, the plowman wdien he heareth this, in the Gospel, ‘no man that
putteth his hand to the plow 7 and looketh back is fit for the kingdom of God,’
might peradventure upon this, cease from his plow—likewise the baker,
when he heareth ‘that a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump of dough,’
may perchance leave our bread unleavned, and so our bodies shall be un¬
seasoned. Also the simple man when he heareth in the Gospel, ‘If thine
eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee,’ may make himself
blind, and so the world will be full of beggars,” Latimer heard this sermon,
and in the afternoon of the same day answered it. Dr. Buckingham sat
opposite him, with his black friar’s cowl about his shoulders; and after en-
larging somewhat upon the figurative phrases of Scripture, he affirmed that
these metaphors were plain and well understood in all languages; “as for
example,” said he, turning to the place where the friar sat, “when the
painters represent a fox preaching out of a friar’s cowl, no one is so weak as
to take this for a real fox, but only as a figure of caution, to beware of that
craft, which lietli hid many times in these cowls.” Now, sir, Dr. Bucking¬
ham knew very well, that one grain of faithfully translated Scripture, would
outweigh innumerable tons of fabulous traditions. And this was his fear
in giving to the people the Word of God. Therefore he desired to hide
the holy lamp under the bushel of foreign tongues. And his fears were
well grounded. For wherever that Word is faithfully delivered, it will as ef¬
fectually overthrow and eat up every tradition of man, as the rod of Moses
and Aaron swallowed up the rods of the Egyptian magicians and all their
serpentine enchantments. No man can gainsay the historical fact, that
whenever, and wherever, pure versions of the originals have been made,
they have been rendered the most efficient agency in the hands of the church;
by which God the Father, has established the kino-dom of Christ in the earth.
In certain parts of the Eastern world, certain parts of the inspired Word
have been faithfully translated from the first. And although traditionary su¬
perstition abounds there, yet it is not on those points treated of in those
parts of their translations which are faithful; and in other Christian lands
where the Word is given in its fidelity on other points, we find the ab¬
sence of those traditions which are rife there. Showing that just in pro¬
portion as the Word of God in its purity abounds, in that proportion the
reign of tradition graduates itself, and holds or relinquishes its empire.
There was no difficulty in ascertaining the mind of the Spirit from the liv¬
ing oracles, in the primitive church; and why should not a perfectly accurate
translation accomplish in this respect, upon the unlettered moderns, all that
the originals then accomplished, upon those who were able to avail them¬
selves of their use ? Mark you here what we plead for. Not a new re¬
velation, but full expression given to that already afforded. A literal, simple,
pure, perspicuous, uniform, elegant, and energetic translation, from the na¬
ked verbiage of the originals. True, we cannot obtain a single thought
from the revealed mind of God at all, in our own tongue, until it has as¬
sumed, at least, four successive forms. First it must be engendered in
the Eternal mind—then it must be transmitted, and incarnated in the hu¬
man mind—then the inspired organ must make it articulate, and dress it in
a form of language—and lastly it must be copied from that form of language
into our vernacular tongue. But because the last of this fourfold method
involves simply unaided instrumentality, is it therefore impossible to seize
the length, and breadth, and height, and depth of the divine import,- and
give that import fully and unequivocally ? Must we fall back upon the po¬
sition assumed by a learned master of the eighteenth century, who in writ¬
ing to one of his pupils said, "eat simply the bread of the Scriptures, such
as you find it; and be not disturbed if perchance you find here and there
a little fragment of the millstone which has fallen into it.” No, sir, you
cannot subscribe to that doctrine, while with the open book before you,
you are interrogated thus, “If thy son ask bread, wilt thou give him a
stone ?” You may not mock his hunger, sir, with a stone; though it be
found only in particles from the translators’ millstone, or from the ground
up jewels of the translators’ kingly master, or even from the crushed and
powdered diamonds of the untranslated Word itself. Many persons may
think this oft-repeated truth, as superfluous as the' action of the herald,
who rides forth upon the day of coronation, when none but a crowd of
loyal hearts are breathing blessings upon their young king—and yet that
herald throws down his glove and challenges any man to gainsay the mon¬
arch’s right to the crown just placed upon his head. Well, sir, all I have
to say, is, if the glove be offensive, let them either stand forth and render
a reason, worthy of a full grown man, or else honor the sovereignty of truth,
by joining the throng, and shouting hosannah to the royal diadem and its
wearer. We claim this honor for the Truth of God, it is worthy of it, and
we can be content with nothing less. Men may withhold their homage, if
they will, from motives of expediency or any other motives. But, sir, in the
very nature of things, this claim will appeal to the conscience, as a righteous
claim, and at that tribunal it cannot be gainsayed for a moment. Give me
a decision here, and what more do I need ? Give me possession of that
fortress and conquest is sure. It is not a little singular, that in all the ma*ss
of reasons advanced against faithful versions for the English as well as for
the Asiatics, we have yet to hear the first man say “conscience revolts
Objections have been predicated on the men, on the time, on the meas¬
ures, on the consequences, and on a thousand other things, but not one on
the ground that God would be offended, right insulted, conscience abused.
Why has no man thought of this weapon, why has no Thorian arm wield¬
ed this hammer? Eloquence, learning, influence, prejudice, fear, and as¬
sociation, have been invoked to “frown down” this effort.
Tell me, 0 tell me, why the sleeping conscience, the strong man armed,
has not been enlisted in battle array, as another Goliath of Gath, against
the ruddy stripling? Tell me, 0 tell me, is it from a fear that the slum¬
bering ghost of John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and lieth in am¬
bush ready to walk up and down in the conscience of Herod, muttering his
spectoral protest against the assasination of truth ? Or is it because, if
once the appeal is made to the conscience of the common people, they will
demand whether there is one God, and one scale of responsibility, and
one rule of right and duty here, and another in the place of the rising sun ?
Why, sir, if the conscience of the masses can once be fairly appealed to on
this topic, the very thought of having the Bible among them precisely as
it first floated in the mind of the Holy One, a book to stand up among
its brethren, the king sheaf, to which they must all do obeisence, -would
speak to the heart in words of pathos, to the understanding in floods of light,
and to the conscience in coals of fire. No thinking man can wonder that
it should do so, when he reflects what a field such a book would open to
the soul. Not only would it give to the understanding all that a good
but imperfect version can impart, but from the more recent discoveries of
Oriental research, and the progressive developments of natural philosophy,
many things hard to be understood would be explained, apparent deformi¬
ties removed, and seeming incongruities reconciled. As the light of phi¬
losophy and sacred criticism are applied in rendering more naked the
deposition of scriptural truth, there certainly can be no valid reason why
this heavenly treasure should come to any man, tarnished by the medium
of communication. But on the other hand, if a better knowledge of the
original languages, of ancient history, sacred and profane, of chronology and
geograph} 7 , of symbolical and hieroglypliical characters, of ancient, secular,
and ecclesiastical ethics and jurisprudence, of Rabbinical philosophy, prover¬
bial and parabolic interpretation, and laws, and customs, and manners, are
not made available for this work, the church of Christ must lose the high
ground she has maintained for centuries. And for all that now appears
to the contrary, she will be exposed to the daring attacks and insidious
machinations of skeptics, who, taking advantage of her lethargy, will lead
the unwary through the pages of an acknowledgedly defective version down
to the frigid zones of Infidelity.
I conjure you, then, that you suffer no sectaiian phraseology of the tra-
ditionists longer to distort the face of truth, and expose to scandal the Chris¬
tian oracles. Rather hold them forth as a transparent mirror, rectify every
lax and mutilated statement, and promptly but prayerfully correct every
deviation from the sacred standard. State the truth boldly: for whoever
attempts to soften it in catering - to the wish of those who fear it, wound its
character, and betray its interests. Majestic truth will frown from her
throne, with holy indignation, upon that presumption which would dethrone
her in the future, by entanglement with foreign alliances now. Let the com¬
promising spirit, and timid liberality of this day, lower the tone of duty,
and resort to a reptile conciliation in avoiding the offense of sacred truth.
But know ye, that she will not long brook intervention in her rights with
impunity, nor will the right guided conscience long revolt from her claims,
or refuse obedience to her holy, but imperious dictates.
You recollect, sir, that Agrippa had been long imprisoned, for a trivial
offense, by Tiberius. And when Tiberius was dead, Caligula sent a letter to
Rome, ordering the deliverance of Agrippa. A few days after the accession
of Caligula, he sent for Agrippa to the palace, and put a diadem upon his
head, and about his neck a chain of gold of the same weight as the chain of
iron with which he had been bound. This chain, Agrippa deposited after¬
wards in the temple at Jerusalem, as a monument that God can bring down
those things that are great, and raise up those things that are fallen. A sim¬
ilar gratitude will the emancipation of truth inspire, in the truly regenerated
heart, as that heart shall be able to read the will of God, in heaven’s
daguerreotyped holograph. The Spirit of God must in this way take of
the things of God and show them unto us. Hence it is, that the poor and
unlearned, in answer to their earnest supplication, “Open thou mine eyes,
that I may see wonderous things out of thy law,” often have a clearer appre¬
hension of the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and a deeper corresponding
gratitude for them, than the maturest scholastic theologian. But, sir, refuse
the unlettered regenerate man a perfect rule of faith and practice, and with
it a palpable knowledge of what the Lord would have him do, and you have
eclipsed his sun and clothed his sky in gloom. To him, you have replaced
the flaming cherubim at the pass to the tree of life, and rendered the world
about him a scene of dreary orphanage.
Give to the regenerate heart of the plain Christian patriarch, in the ham¬
let or the cot, the pure Word of God, and without any chemical apparatus
whatever, he will be as well qualified to analyze the atmosphere of truth,
and pronounce it free from impurities, as the metropolitan sage. For it will
bear its own witness that it is the air of heaven. And as the heavenly inflatus
swells his soul, and the breath of life begins to respire from his bosom, his
heart will begin to beat, his brain to deduct, his eye to vibrate, and every sen¬
sibility of the man to bound with primeval joy. After a long night of tra¬
ditionary supremacy, he will wake up to a light shining as in a dark place,
and if a half-awakened fellow slumberer shall demand of him “what of the
night ?” he will reply, “the morning cometh.” The pure Word of God
will introduce him into a new mental and mystic universe, where serene skies
shall glow with molten glory, and the vermillion, the blue, and the sable shall
blend with the gray, and the azure, and the gold from the horizon to the
zenith. Where the snow-drop, pale for very joy, shall tinge its alabaster cup
with crimson from the blushing rose. Where the virgin lilly and the tulip
shall drink from divinely sculptured cups the first-born dew, and the lilac,
and the laburnum, the violet and the daisy, the honey-suckle and the wood¬
bine, throw open every pore to impregnate the dancing breezes with holy in¬
cense, Where the gay insect and the brilliant feathered tribes shall be mu¬
tually ambitious to swell the tide of merriness, and every leaf and every
lawn shall smile from their rich attire a welcome to his enlightened heart.
Then he shall see in a new and richer light the ripplings of the brook, and
the white foam of the billow, the sombre majesty of the forest, the gentle
undulations of the landscape, and the stupendous sublimity of the mount.
The teeming tenantry of space shall pour themselves forth in review before
him, along the boundless scene of earth and sky, peopled with objects in
motion and in rest, and every emotion shall quiver as the string of the
lute; while he presses the precious boon to his heart and gives forth to the
evening and the morning of the new made day, and to Him who pronounces
it “very good,” this soul-transporting response—“Thy word is very pure,
therefore thy servant loveth it.”
And now, sir, it only remains that I tender to this very intelligent and
influential Convention, the hearty thanks of the Hew York delegation, for
the kind reception and the kind treatment we have received at your hands.
Sir, 1 thank you, from the most sacred cell of my heart I thank you. We
came among you as entire strangers. We had often heard of your exuberent
Southern hospitality and warm heartedness, and yet we were scarcely
prepared to receive so much attention at your hands. In the name of the
American Bible Union, we thank you. You have watched our operations
from the first, and we have been cheered on in our work from the conviction
that you were prepared to extend your sympathy and co-operation when we
should be fairly understood as to our positions. The only thing that now
surprises us is, that despite all the misrepresentations and difficulties which
have been thrown in our way, you should have been able to discern so
clearly and so soon our real purposes. We shall carry cheering tidings to
our friends in New York, and while we purpose living with you in union of
heart, and union of action, we also cherish the liveliest hope of convening
with you in indissolvable union above.
BY REV. DAVID E. THOMAS, ZANESVILLE, OHIO,
Friends of the Bible: Among the enterprises of the present age, you
will find the grand movement of a large multitude of your fellow Chris*
tians, to procure a faithfully revised version of the English Scriptures.
The commonly received English version has been in existencfe for 241
years, and if general accuracy were accredited to that version, tjie changes
to which every living language is liable, would require a faithful revision,
notwithstanding the opposition against which all such movements must con¬
tend. A brief historical sketch of the principal English versions which,
at different times, have appeared, will amply confirm this truth, and in a
great degree account for present opposition.
I. HISTORY OF ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS.
The first translation of the Holy Scriptures into the English language,
which we deem necessary to mention, was made by Wickliffe in 1377. In
learning and piety the translator had no equals in that age. For his
noble efforts to supply the perishing with the word of life, he endured
the rage of his professed Christian contemporaries while he lived, and
their malice pursued him to his grave. Forty-four years after his burial,
his bones were dug up and burned, and their ashes thrown into the river
About the year 1526, William Tyndal, a native of Wales, made and
printed a translation of the Sacred Scriptures in the English language.
The clergy and the superstitious people charged him with “altering God’s
word.” The venders of his translation were punnished in various ways,
some of which modesty forbids us to describe. Possession of the work
was a proof of heresy, and subjected its possessor to the flames. Tyndal
himself was burned for heresy not by the pagans or heathens; but by the
professed friends of religion.
In the reign of Henry VIII. Miles Coverdale completed and printed a
translation of the whole Bible in the English language. During the reign
of Queen Mary he was banished, and died in indigence about the year
1568. This version was finally sanctioned by royal authority.
In 1537 John Rogers, or sometimes called Thomas Mathews, issued an
improved edition of the English Scriptures. He was the first martyr in
Queen Mary’s reign. About this time, Grafton and Whitchurch printed
an edition of the English Scriptures, and 26,000 copies were seized, con¬
fiscated and burned.
In the same year, Mathews’ Bible was published, edited by Coverdale,
and it received the Royal Sanction. But the priests and curates exhorted
the people to do as their “fathers had done,” saying, “the old Bible is the
best.” This appeal being the ancestor of Dr. Dowling’s ditty—“The
arnily Bible that lies on the stand.” However, the people, anxious to
know the will of God, bought up this edition of the Bible, and read and
pondered the precious treasure in their families. In 1639 Cranmer’s grea
Bible and the English Bible revised by Tavener, made their appearance.
Tavener was subsequently imprisoned in the Tower.
The Genevese or Genevan version made its appearance in 1660. The
work was executed by Puritan exiles, and exhibited far greater fidelity to
the original than the commonly received English version. This version was
the Bible of the Pilgrim Fathers, and continued to be used in this coun¬
try until after the American Revolution.
The Bishop’s Bible was translated by eight Bishops, assisted by others.
It was printed in London in 1667, and it was used in the churches for forty
years, while the Genevan version was more generally used in private fam¬
ilies. These versions were as much endeared to the families of the British
Isles, in the days of King James, as the commonly received version is, at
the present day, to the families of English Christendom. Every objection
that can be urged against the necessary revision of the commonly received
version was, or might have been urged against every version that was
made after the days of Wyckliffe; and if these objections were generally
true, and proper, they must to a great extent palliate the acts of cruelty
inflicted upon learned and pious men for increasing the number of English
In 1603, King James I. ascended the British throne as a member of the
Kirk of Scotland; elevation changed his religious views. In Hampton
Court, he declared that the change in English literature within forty years,
and the tendency of the Genevan Version to instigate rebellion against mon¬
archy, required a new translation of the Scriptures. He drove the Pil¬
grim fathers from their homes, deprived the Nonconformists of their liv¬
ings—disabling them to collect their dues—exposing them to prisons, and
finally denied them Christian burial. Pie gave the Scotch divines their
choice between conformity and swinging on the gallows; he denied them
the rights of preaching, or the privilege of holding conference meetings.
He banished Vortius for Arminianism, burned Whitman for Ana-baptism,
and died a half Papist and a half Protestant. Pie could justify the Gun¬
powder plot if it had been designed to destroy the Puritans; he prepared
a Bible for the pulpit, and wrote a book of frolics to be read from the
same sacred place. So affirms Dr. William R. Williams of New York
city. His motto was “No Bishop, no King,” and he had no hesitation to
declare the people wrong whenever they opposed his own views. He
entrammeled the translators hj fifteen arbitrary rules, requiring the trans¬
fer of every “old ecclesiastical term,” and the translation of “every word
having divers significations,” according to the analogy of his own faith.
In a word, he was tyrannical, weak, superstitious, vain, indiscreet, and a
jealous bigot. In his project of giving the world a new translation of the
Scriptures, he was prompted by motives not very honorable to himself, and
the result of which has proved of doubtful advantage to the human race.
II. ORIGINAL LANGUAGES OF THE BIBLE.
It pleased Infinite Wisdom to communicate His will to man through the
medium of the Hebrew and Greek languages. The Old Testament being
originally written in the former, and the New Testament in the latter.
The Hebrew language, at one period, was the most extensive of all the
languages of the earth. Besides the land of Palestine, it comprehended
Syria, Phoenicia, Mesopotamia, Babylon, Arabia, and Ethiopia, extending
even to Carthage and other places along the Mediterranean Sea. Its sim¬
plicity and purity, and the fact that the most ancient documents are found
in it, rendered the Hebrew a suitable channel for the communication of
the Divine will to man.
After the decline of the Hebrew language, the Greek became the most
copious, elegant, and precise of all the languages of the Japhetic family,
and received its rules and government from the master hands of the most
distinguished philosophers. After the conquests of Alexander in Asia,
and the establishment of the Grecian dynasties, it became the most exten¬
sive language of those times. As early as the reign of Ptolemy Philadel-
phus, about 286 years before the Christian era, a translation of the He¬
'D re w Scripture was required into the Greek. The translation is called
the Septuagint. It was read by the Jews in their synagogue on the Sab¬
bath in the days of Christ, and at least 177 years before that period.
The Greek language was understood more or less throughout the Roman
Empire—an empire extending from the river Euphrates in the East, to the
Atlantic Ocean in the West;—in length more than 3000 miles; in breadth
more than 2000, including several millions of square miles. Some classic
writers represent the Greek as the language of the world. The Jews
were familiar with it in the time of the Maccabees, and many of their cities
were almost exclusively inhabited by Greeks. The Jewish bills of di¬
vorce were indifferently written in Greek or Hebrew, and we read that
Herod Agrippa and his brother addressed the Roman Senate in that lan¬
guage. Tidings designed for universal diffusion could scarcely be con¬
veyed through any other channel. By the divine and mysterious opera¬
tions of the giver of the Bible, both of these languages became dead sooa
after they respectively received the Oracles of God. Thus God secured
the immutability of his word from the mutations to which a living lan¬
guage is ever liable.
III. THE IMPORTANCE OF FAITHFUL TRANSLATIONS OF THE HOLT SCRIPTURES.
The importance of faithful translations of the Holy Scriptures into all the
languages of the earth, may be established by the following considerations.
1. The express directions given in the Book itself to the original
Writers, Transcribers or Translators. Deut. 27: 8. “And thou shall
write (or engrave) upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.’’
Deut. 4: 2. “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, nei¬
ther shall ye diminish from it.” Jer. 26: 2. “Diminish not a vjord.” Hab.
2: 2. “Write the vision and make it plain upon tablets, (or lit. engrave it
plainly on box tree tablets) that he may run that readeth it.” Rev. 22:
18, 19. “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto
him the plagues that are written in this book; And if any man shall take¬
away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away
his part out of the book of life.” To translate the oracles of God is a
2. The Gift of Tongues conferred upon the Apostles, proves that
God intended that His Word should be known in evert Language.—
One of the mtos remarkable events on the day of Pentecost, was the con-
ferring upon the Apostles, of the gifts of tongues, by which they were
enabled to translate the mind and the will of God to the understanding
of the various nations there congregated together. This astonished the
multitude, and troubled their minds, that every man should hear in his
own language the words of God.
3. The principle involved in the translation of the Scriptures, is commended by
ike example of Jesus and his Apostles in giving a, translation to foreign words
employed in their discourses. The most of their quotations from the Old
Testament are made from the Septuagint or Greek version. When they
introduced a term not understood by the people, they gave its meaning in
a translation. Let the following passages be consulted, in which Syriac
words are used. Mark 7: 11. “Corbah, that is to say, a gift." Mark 5:
41. “ Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel.’’ Mark 7: 34.
“Ephphatha , that is, be opened.” Mark 15: 34. Eloi, Eloi, lama Sa.bac-
thani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsa
ken me.” Acts 1: 19. “Aceldema, that is to say, the field of blood.”
4. The rule for interpretation mentioned by Paul in 1 Cor. 14: 27, 28, re¬
quires the work of translation, and forbids the transfer of foreign words. The
use of an unknown term, in the church requires the aid of an interpreter:
without such aid, no foreign word or speech can be used or made. The
numerous untranslated words which mar the beauty of the English ver¬
sion, are in direct violation of this rule, and our Doctors of Divinity in
defending such transfer, “break this commandment, and deserve to be
sailed the least in the kingdom of heaven.”
5. The importance of a faithfully translated version of the English Scrip
luxes may be inferred from the importance op the Bible itself. Man needs
the Bible, the whole Bible, the Bible as God gave it to the human race.
The moral world needs the Bible as much as the physical world needs the
sun, the atmosphere or the principle of gravitation. It is a book of knowl¬
edge, communicating information of vital importance to the human family,
solving questions which sages and philosophers were never able to answer.
It is a book of models, presenting examples in which religion is enlivened
and embodied;—a book of motives, in which love is made to allure, ter¬
rors to awe; urging duty by the most powerful sanction, and dissuading
vice by the most awful penalty—these are addressed to the whole man.
the understanding, the conscience and the heart. It is the bulwark of
our social institutions, and the sure defense of our political economy. It
is the instrument of man’s salvation, and furnishes the only authoritative
standard of appeal in relation both to doctrine and practice. Let this vol¬
ume be corrupted, obscured or banished from our schools and our country,
and the Sabbath is discontinued, our churches disbanded, and the whole
land is enveloped in gross darkness. Obscure the truths of such a book,
and the consequences are disastrous both in time and in eternity.
IV. IS THE COMMON ENGLISH VERSION A FAITHFUL TRANSLATION OF THE
Is the English Bible published by our Bible Societies a faithful transla¬
tion of the original Scriptures ? This is a question of vast importance to
the English reader, and its answer must be the pivot upon which the pro¬
priety and expense connected with revision must turn. If there are errors
and glaring inaccuracies in the English version, no sincere lover of divine
truth can consistently oppose their removal. Let every friend of God and
truth state whether things erronious should be corrected; every thing ob¬
scure be made plain; every thing added by man be removed; every thing
omitted by translators be inserted. If the reader should answer these
questions affirmatively, then he is in the principle a Bible Union man; let
him not oppose that institution in practice.
The want of fidelity to the original Scriptures in the commonly received
version, is almost universally conceded by its advocates. Where is the
minister of religion of any denomination, acquainted with the Hebrew and
Greek languages, who has not frequently in his pulpit ministrations pointed
out its incorrectness ? Where is the biblical commentator who has not
attempted to remove its defects? However loud the denunciation of
preachers, book makers, against revisions, as if their favorite craft was in
danger, they have for scores of years been undermining the authority of
the present version.
1. Some important words are left untranslated.
Hallelujah. What mere English reader knows the idea designed to
be conveyed by this word ? One under the influence of excitement takes
it to be a proper word to express pleasing emotions. Another only knows
it in song, or as an index to some metrical composition. The word in the
Hebrew Bible is frequently used to give an important command—“Praise
ye Jehovah.” This command is obscured by a transfer, and a part of
God’s truth is hid from the English reader.
Mammon, is a word which occurs in the English New Testament four
times. It is used in the Chaldee Targum of Onekelos in Ex. 18: 21,
where the word covetousness occurs in the English Bible. In Exodus the
word was understood; but in Mat. 6: 24, Luke 16: 9, 10, 13, it becomes
either an “old ecclesiastical tei'm,” or a ‘word having divers signification,’
and is doomed to the obscurity of a transfer. In consequence of this,
conjectures must be multiplied. One derives the word from a Hebrew
term signifying to confide, to trust, and of necessity supposes that riches
must be the object of trusting. Another with extra learning thinks that
mammon was the name of an idol god somewhere, at some period, and
that this idol was the god of riches. The transfer of the word has inven¬
ted strange theories to excite the marvel of the uninformed. The word
itself was familiar to the Jews, and frequently used in their writings. It
Hosannah. This word occurs six times in the New Testament, and
means save now, or save and prosper. The English reader is not allowed
to see the uncertainty of human applause, as exhibited in the fact that one
day, the people cried “Save and prosper thou Son of David,” and on the
next exclaimed “Crucify him.”
Anathema Maran-atha. 1 Cor. 16: 22. This is one of the most aw¬
fully solemn declarations in the book of God. Its import is hid from many
a sinner whose doom it affirms. Why not let the sinner know the deter¬
mination of God. The words themselves present no difficulty against the
translation of this sentence. Anathema —the first of these words occurs
six times in the New Testament. In five instances, the verb has been
rendered by the verb accursed, or its cognates. Maran-atha contains a 1
noun and a verb. The translators met with the noun in Dan. 2: 47, where
they rendered it Lord. The verb had been under consideration in instan ¬
ces too numerous to mention. There is no apology for transferring this
important announcement. “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ,
he will be accursed at the Lord’s'coming.” Let this declaration meet the
Many other transferred words might be noticed, but the space allotted
for this address will not permit further specifications.
2. ERRORS RESPECTING DOCTRINE,
Some of the errors of the English version seriously affect important
doctrines of Christianity. We are fully conscious that this is a grave
charge and should be sustained by ample proof.
1. The Divinity of the Lord Jesus is often obscured. In those passages-
in the Old Testament which refer to the visits of the Angel Jehovah, the
construction of the original is not preserved. Gen. 16: 7. “The Angel of
the Lord found Ilagar,” instead of, the Angel Jehovah found Hagar.
Gen. 22: 14, 15. “The Angel of the Lord called Abraham,” instead of,
the Angel Jehovah called Abraham.
Similar misconstruction is found in the English Testament. “In the
Kingdom of Christ, and of God,” instead of, in the Kingdom of Christ,
even of God, as a parallel expression is rendered in 1 Cor. 15: 24. “Ac¬
cording to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ,” instead of,
according to the grace of Jesus Christ, our God and Lord. 1 Thes. 1: 12.
o c> t
“Before God and the Lord Jesus Christ,” instead of, before Jesus Christ,
the God and Lord. 1 Tim. 5: 21. “The glorious appearing of the great
God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” instead of, the glorious appearing;
of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Tit. 2: 13. “Through the
righteousnes of God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ,” instead of, through
o • • O
the righteousness of Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour. 2. Pet. 1: 1.
“And denying our only Lord God and Lord Jesus Christ,” instead of, and
denying our only Master, God and Lord Jesus Christ. Jude 4: “As by
the spirit of the Lord,” instead of, from the Lord the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:
18. See Horne’s Intro, vol. 1, p. 327. Sharp on the Greek Articles, pp
The divinity of the Lord Jesus and divine character of the Holy Spirit
are frequently obscured in the English version by the omission of the defi¬
nite article. A Christ and the Christ; A Spirit and the Spirit are not sy¬
nonymous expressions. In the original the definite article is almost inva¬
riably prefixed to the name of Christ and of the Spirit. When the article
is not used before the word Spirit in the original, the reference is generally
made to the spirit of man and not the Spirit of God. This fact has been
greatly overlooked by the translators. Sometimes the article is inserted in
the English version to the evident injury of the passage. ‘God is a Spirit.’
The article is added. An Angel is a Spirit; but no one can affirm of an
A.ngel that he is Spirit, in the sense in which God is. The omission of
the article before the name of the third person in the God-head militates
against the personality of the Spirit, and its insertion where it is not found
in the original, renders it difficult to ascertain what Spirit is meant.
Much violence is done to other topics of less importance by the unwar¬
rantable insertion or omission of the artiele. Its omission in the Greek
marks indefiniteness. “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers.” There is no
article in the Greek, as the sick and lepers generally are included. “All
power is given unto me.” There is no article in the Greek text, as the
power referred to is general and unlimited. “For if the dead rise not.”
The Greek article is not used, as reference is made to the dead generally.
Perhaps no exception to these remarks can be found unless it be where the
article is omitted, the whole is put for a part, and the generic for the spe¬
cific. “Suffer little children to come unto me,” “'and judgment to come.”
In both of these passages the translators have dropped the article.
The doetrine of repentance is an important truth of the Christian religion.
Two Greek words are indifferently translated to repent. When the Spirit
enjoins the duty of repentance upon sinners, the word metanoeo, a word
used thirty-four times in the New Testament, is employed. Mctamelomai
is used five times, and designates unavailing regrets, such as those of Jit-
das. This important distinction in the Greek, is lost in the English version,
rendering doubtful and obscure what the Spirit requires of every man.
The doctrine of regeneration is shrouded in similar obscurity in the com¬
monly received version. “Ye must be born again.” Anothen is rendered
again to denote a repetition, instead of from above, to indicate the source
whence our renovation must come. One goes to duties and ordinances
for a change of heart, another to penance and the crucifix; but the Sa¬
viour points to the throne above as the place where we can receive the Holy
Spirit to renovate our hearts and purify our affections. Another is ren¬
dered from above inJohn 3: 31; 19: I 1. James 1: 17; 3: 15—17, but where
Luke designs to say that he had received a perfect understanding of the
truths he was about recording from above, or from God, the translators
compel him to say that he was acquainted with “all things from the first.”
A correct knowledge concerning heaven and hell, is of vital importance
to man. To obtain such knowledge, recourse must be had to the Bible.
Where else can we go ? According to the English version, the Greek
word Ouranos, heaven, a word which occurs in the New Testament alone
284 times, means air ten times, sky five times and heaven once. We read
that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God in 1 Cor. 15: 50:
yet we find by a mistranslation of zoa —living creatures in Rev. 4: 7, 8, 9; 5:
6, 8, 11, 14; 6: 1,3, 5, 6, 7; 7: 11; 14: 3; 15: 7; 19: 4, that leasts are
found in the immediate region of the throne of God. John Wesley wanted
to crowd the resurrection with beasts and birds, from the language of Paul
in Rom. 8: 21; but the forty-seven men of the British Universities eleva¬
ted beasts into heaven, and placed them before the throne of God. What
confused ideas must the English reader receive concerning heaven?
Nor will his idea concerning hell be any nearer the truth. Comparing
the English Testament with the original we find two Greek words transla¬
ted without distinction into English by the term hell. Hades which occurs
eleven times in the New Testament is rendered hell except in one instance,
1 Cor. 15: 55. There is no difficulty to understand the import of this
word; it often occurs in the Septuagint, and in classic authors. It is de¬
rived from a negative, and idem to see—obscure, invisible. It denotes
the abode of departed spirits whether good or bad—no special reference
being made to their moral character. The regimen in which the word is
used must decide the condition of the departed. In the English language
we sometimes speak of the dead in terms which do not indicate their hap¬
piness or misery. “They are gone into eternity,” “into the invisible
world,” “into the judgment,” &c. The term cannot be rendered grave,
as it is never employed in connection with the verb thapto which signifies
to bury, a thing almost inevitable in words occurring so frequently, if the
term ever signifies the grave. The word is never used in the plural num¬
ber, which from necessity must be the case with a word signifying the
place where the body is laid. Hades being frequently used to denote the
state of the dead in general, it cannot, at least in many instances, be
properly rendered by the word hell—a term among us which is never used
in a good sense. In Ps. 9: 17, we read that the wicked shall be turned
into hell. In Acts 2: 27-31, we read of the soul of Jesus being in hell.
Such discrepancies arm the caviler with weapons to support error, and arc
calculated to mislead multitudes of English readers.
3. Errors respecting words and phrases.
1. the English reader is misled concerning the nature and character of
the Arch Apostate. The word Diabolos occurs in the Greek Testament
thirty-eight times, and wherever it is used as the name of Satan, it is
found in the singular number. Where by a figure of speech the term is
applied to men, because of the similarity of their character to that of Sa¬
tan, it is used in the plural number, and rendered slanderers or false accu¬
sers. In all the instances in which the term is used as the name of the
Arch Apostate, it is translated Devil in the singular number. The inspi¬
red writers speak of the Evil One by other words. Daimon is used five
times, four times in the plural number. Dairnonion is used sixty times—
seventeen times in the singular, and forty-three in the plural. In the his¬
tory of casting out devils, one of these words is always used—Diabolos
never. There is no distinction made between these terms in the commonly
received version, and the English reader has many vague, confused and
marvelous notions concerning the plurality of Devils <fcc. &c.
2. The inaccuracies of the English version give an erronious view of many
of the narrations recorded, in the Sacred Scriptures. We will specify hut a
In Judges 15: 19, God is said to have made a hollow place in the jaw,
and that water came out of it. The English reader supposes it was in
the jaw bone with which Sampson slew the Philistines. The sacred wri¬
ter designed to say that God clave a hollow in Lehi, the name of a place,
and which is so called in the last sentence of the 19th verse.
In Joshua 6: 4, &c. &c., the English reader is to'd that the Priests
should blow in trumpets of ram’s horns. No other instance in the Bible
can be found in which Johel is translated ram. The Hebrew expression is
trumpets of Jubilee, and the translators in this instance, have shown great¬
er respect for the Chaldee paraphrase than for the inspired original.
In Exo. 3: 22, 11: 2; 12; 32. The Israelites are made to borrow jew¬
els of gold and silver from the Egyptians, which they never intended to
restore. The word translated borrow means to demand, to ask, and should
have been so rendered. It occurs in Ps. 2: 8; and is translated ask. Ev¬
ery ancient and modern version except the English, has rendered shoal
to ask or demand. It has been rendered to ask in many passages. Oval
is the Hebrew word for borrowing, and occurs in Deut. 15: 6. In Lev.
27: £8; Judges 11: 30, the Hebrew prefix vau is translated by the copula¬
tive conjunction and, instead of the disjunctive or, thereby making the Bible
appear as favoring human sacrifices.
In 2 Sami. 12: 31, the Hebrew prefix leth is translated under instead of
to —making David the author of the most unparalelled cruelty. He put
the Amorites to saws and to harrows of iron in the same sense as we put
a man to the plough, to the anvil or to the factory. Equal injustice is done
to the character of the King of Israel in 1 Citron. 20: 3, where Vagassen
is translated cut them with saws, instead of put them to saws. Mr. Horne
affirms that those passages which contain imprecations inconsistant with
benign the spirit of Christianity, are mistranslated. Horne’s Introductory
toI. 1, page 443.
3. The mistranslation of some words and passages in the English Version
frequently makes one part of the hook appear inconsistent with another.
In 1. Chr. 10: 14, we read that Saul inquired of a familiar spirit, and
‘inquired not of the Lord;’ but in 1 Sam. 28: 6, we read that “when Saul
inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not.” The word translated
inquire in 1 Sam. is Shoal— to ask; in l Chron. the word Dorash —-to
search out is used. Saul asked God with a degree of indifference; but he
earnestly sought the desired information from the familiar spirit. Thus we
find no actual contradiction between these passages.
In Gen. 32: 28; 35: 10, it is written “Thy name shall not be called any
more Jacob, but Israel.” We frequently read of God himself calling the
patriarch by the appellation Jacob afterwards. The passage should have
been rendered, as in the Arabic, thus—“Thy name shall not always be
called Jacob only, but Israel likewise.”
In Mat. 4: 10, Luke 4: 8, we read “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy
God and him only shalt thou serve.” By a mis-rendering of the word
dosa in Luke 14: 10—a word which occurs in the New Testament 167
times—translated glory 15 times; honor six, praise four, dignities twice—the
Lord Jesus is made to speak with apparent approbation of human worship.
In the Old Testament we read of the restoration to life of no less than
three different persons. In the New Testament we are informed that
Christ restored to life three individuals. With these facts before us we
are told by the English version that, “Christ should be the first that should
rise from the dead.” Acts 26: 23. This passage should have been rendered,
“That he should be the first from the dead by resurrection,” in the same
sense as he is “the first fruits of them that slept.” The first to be raised
from the dead, to die no more.
In Heb. 11: 13, we read that, “All these (including Abraham, Isaac,
&c.) died in faith, not having received the promises.” In verse 17 we are
told that Abraham had received the promises. Such incongruities arm the
infidel with weapons, which can scarcely fail to mislead the uninformed.
In the first of these passages the inspired writer used the verb labontes
the 3d per. plural of the 2 Aorist of lambano which means to apprehend, to
comprehend so as to realize or to reap the fruits of. See Poly. B. 5: 20.
It ought not in this connection to have been rendered to receive. In the
second passage quoted, the Apostle uses another verb—( anadekomai )
which is properly translated to receive.
4. The commonly received version contains many additions. We have al¬
ready recorded the charge of God that no man add or diminish a word to,
or from the sacred volume. Let the following passages be examined in
the light of that requirement. “ God forbid ” occurs in Rom. 3: 6, 31; 6:
2, 15; 7: 7, 13; 9: 14; 11: 1, 11; where it should have been rendered,
May it never be. In none of these instances does the word God occur in the
original. The same words, “God forbid,” occur in 1 Cor. 6: 15, Gal. 2:
17; 5: 14, where the word God is added as in the preceding passages.
Paul in 2 Cor. 11: 1, is made to exclaim, Would to God ye could bear, in¬
stead of, I would ye did bear. “God save the King” is an expression used
in 2 Sam. 16: 76; 2 Kings 11: 12; 2 Chro. 23: 11, where the word God
is not in the original text. Let the King live is all the import of the ex¬
pression. To add the word God seems to us like an unwarrantable bear¬
ing towards monarchy.
4. The omissions of the English Versions are numerous. “Diminish not
a word” is the law of heaven. Jer. 26: 2. The word or words omitted
will be found in Italic letters after a dash. Luke 24: 19. Which was a
prophet— a man, a prophet. John 10: 24. Plow long wilt thou make us
to doubt?—How long wilt thou keep our soids in suspense? Acts 7: 20.
And was exceeding fair— Adethiosto Theo —unblemished unto God. Rom.
3: 12. No not one—no there is not even one. Acts 8: 13. Beholding the
miracles and signs—the miracles and great signs. 2 Cor. 12: 15. Spent
and be spent for you—for your souls. Heb. 11: 37. Slain with the sword
—with the slaughter of the sword.
Emphatic words are frequently omitted. Acts 7: 1. Are these things
so ?—Are these thing's indeed so? Acts 12: 18. What has become of Pe-
ter?—What has indeed become of Peter? 1 Cor. 7: 14, Else were your
children unclean—else indeed were your children unclean. 2 Cor. 1: 17.
Did I use lightness?—Did I indeed use lightness? Heb. 9: 19. And
sprinkled the book ( itself ) and all the people.
6. In many portions of the English Version one wo r rd is improperly used
The following table exhibits, 1st, the passage referred to, 2nd, the word
improperly used, 3rd, the word that ought to be used, and which is fre¬
quently placed in the margin.
Mat. 3: 4.
Mat. 17: 25;
1 Thes. 4: 15.
Anticipate or going-
Mat. 23: 6;
Luke 14: 7, 8;
Mat. 23: 24.
“ 25: 27.
“ 27: 44.
Luke 1: 7, 18.
Stricken in years.
Advanced in days.
“ 2: 36.
Of great age.
Of many days.
“ 2: 46.
“ 7: 4.
“ 10: 16.
“ 15: 22.
“ 21: 16.
Feed my sheep.
Tend my sheep.
“ 7: 45
“ 9: 15.
“ 10: 42; )
Vessel of election.
2 Tim. 4: 1; V
Quick and dead.
Living and dead.
1 Pet. 4: 5. )
Acts 12: 4.
“ 17: 16.
Robbers of Churches.
Dispoilers of Temples.
“ 22: 28.
Ex. 28: 23.
Lev. 22: 14.
Jos. 3: 17.
1 8am. 17: 22.
2 Kings 4: 43.
! 2 Chron. 24. 27.
Isa. 7: 23.
Pieces of silver.
“ 29: 3.
Zep. 1: 15.
Acts 26: 10.
Vote or pebble.
“ 27: 34.
Acts 28: 8.
Dy sen ter).
Rom. 3: 2.
66 7: 5.
“ 12: 8.
2 Cor. 8: 21.
1 Cor. 13: 1, 4.
Ep. 3: 6.
Col. 2: 23.
“ 3: 13.
“ 3: 21.
Body of humiliation.
1 Tim. 1: 4.
“ 4: 12.
“ 5: 4.
“ 6: 13.
2 Tim. 3: 4.
Tit. 1: 7.
“ 1: 12.
Heb. 4: 8.
“ 5: 12, 14.
“ 10: 24.
James 2: 9.
“ 3: 4.
1 Peter 1:13.
Hope to the end.
“ 4: 15.
“ 5: 1.
Rev. 18: 13.
7. The English translators have taken unwarrantable liberty with the text,
sometimes furnishing the reader with a kind of 'paraphrase, or commentary
upon the original. The following will serve as proof of this fact. We in¬
sert the common reading first, and follow it with a literal translation from
Luke 1:1. “Which are most surely believed amongst us.” Which
have been confirmed amongst us by the fullest evidence. Luke 23: 7. At
that time—in those days. John 18: 22. Struck Jesus;—gave Jesus a
blow. Acts 4: 36. Of the country of Cyprus;—A Cyprian by nation.
Acts 11:9. Again;—the second time. Acts 13: 17. When they dwelt as
strangers in;—when sojourning in. Acts 15: 7. A good while ago;—from
days of old. Acts 15: 23. He wrote letters by them-, —by their hands.
Acts 17: 5. Lewd fellows;—frequenters of the market. 19: 38. The law
is open;—the courts are held. 20: 2. And had exhorted them with much
exhortation;—and having exhorted them with many words. 27: 3. To
refresh himself;—to enjoy their care. Rom. 5: 18. As by the offense of
one; —as by one offense. 1 Cor. 8: 3. While the world standeth;— forever.
~ Cor. 3: 7. Written and engraven;—in letters engraven. 2 Cor. 8: 19.
Acts 14: 23. Who was also chosen;—who with the lifting up of hands
was also chosen. Gal.4: 15. Where then is the blessedness ye spake of ;—
what then was your blessedness? Heb. 11: 12. Of one, and him as good
as dead;—of one, and that of one dead. James 2: 18. Show me thy
faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works;—
show me thy faith out of thy works, and I will show thee my faith out of
8. The English Version exhibits a wonderf ul disregard to the grammatical
construction of the original. The principles of grammar affect all lan¬
guages, and the exact idea of a passage may frequently depend upon its
grammatical construction. In ascertaining the meaning of any given
passage, regard must be had to the voice, mood, and tense of the verbs
The English version unnecessarily changes the voice in which a Greek
verb is found in the original. Rom. 6: 17. Which was delivered you;—'
into which ye were delivered.
One word is often used for another. Mat. 26: 45. Sleep on now and take
your rest;—instead of, Do ye still sleep on and take your rest? Mat. 5:
23. If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest—instead of,
and there remember. Eph. 4: 24. And put on, instead of, and have put on.
One tense is used for another. John 13: 3. And icent to God;—was
going to God. Acts 7: 34. I have seen, I have seen; for seeing, I have
seen. Rom. 5:1. Being justified— having been justified. Rom 6:4. Are
buried—were buried. Rom. 6: 6. Is crucified— has been crucified. Rom.
9: 3. For I could wish—for Ic?i«?wish. 1 John 1. 2. We know—we have
known. 1 John 2: 4. I know—I have known. 1 John 3: 15. Perceived
we—we have perceived. 1 John 4: 8. Knoweth not— hath not known.
Sometimes one 'pronoun is used instead of another. Acts 22: 25. They
bound him— he bound him. 2 Cor. 10: 10. For his letter say they —for
his letters says he. Singulars are used for plurals, and vice versa. 1 Pet.
5: 5. Unto the elder- —the elders. 1 Pet. 1:11. Glory, for glories. 2 Pet.
2: 9. Temptations, for temptation. Almost innumerable instances of a
similar character miaht be adduced.
9. The English Version conveys wrong impressions by its want of uniformi¬
ty in the spelling of Hebrew and Greek proper names, leading the unlearned er¬
roneously to suppose, from a change of orthography, that different persons err
places are meant.
Below, we give a list of proper names indicating the same person or
place; and their orthography ought to be uniform throughout the Bible.
One text is added to show where the words occur in their different orthog¬
SPELLED IX NEW TESTAMENT. SPELLED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.
Agar. Gal. 4: 24, 25.Hagar. Gen. 16: 1.
Azotus. Acts 8: 40.Ashdod. 1 Sam. 5: 1.
Charran. Acts 7: 2, 4.Haran. Gen. 12: 4.
Cis. Acts 13: 21.Kish. 1 Sam. 10: 21.
Elias. Mat. 11: 14.Elijah. 1 Kings 17: 1.
Eliseus. Luke 4: 27.Elisha. 1 Kings 19: 16.
Esaias. Rom. 9: 27.Isaiah. 2 Kings 20: 1.
Jeremy. Mat. 2: 17.Jeremiah. Jer. 1: 1.
Jeremias. Mat. 16: 14.Jeremiah. 2 Chr. 36: 21.
Jonas. Mat. 12: 39.Jonah, Jon. 1: 3.
Joram. Mat. 1: 8.Jehoram. 2Kinfi-sl:17.
Josaphat. Mat. 1: 8.Jehosaphat. 1 Kings 15: 24.
Messias. John 1: 41...Messiah. Dan. 9: 25.
Noe. Mat. 24: 37.Noah. Gen. 8: 1.
Osee. Rom. 9: 25.Hosea. Hos. 1:1.
Roboam. Mat. 1: 7.Rehoboam. 1 Chr. 3: 10.
Sem. Luke 3: 36.. Shem. Gen. 5: 32.
Tyre. Mat. 11:21.Tyrus. Jer. 25:22.
Urias. Mat, 1:6.Uriah. 2 Sam. 23: 39.
Zacbarias. Mat. 23: 35 .Zachariah. 2 Chr. 24: 20.
10. The English Version is marred by numerous obsolete terms which hide
the mind of the Spirit, and produce unfavorable impressions upon every reader
of the Bible. The words contained in the following table may have been
understood 200 years ago; but at the present time there is not one out of
every five hundred of the common people, that knows what they mean. It
is doubtful whether some of them were ever current in the English lan¬
guage; they give a singular oddity to the Scriptures.
"We give in the first column the obsolete words; in the second column
their equivalents in modern words; in the third column one text where the
term is found; in the fourth column the number of times the word occurs
in its obsolete sense.
1 Chr. 12: 19.
2 Kings 20: 4.
Eze. 13: 7.
Mat. 13: 20.
Isa. 8: 21.
Mat. 26: 73.
Ex. 9: 9.
Nah. 3: 19.
Hard cakes, biscuits.
1 Kings. 14: 3.
Exo. 36: 38.
Gen. 31: 36.
1 Kings 14: 3.
Job 9: 33.
Ex. 29: 40.
Mat. 13: 21.
Till, or plough.
1 Sam. 8: 12.
1 Cor. 10: 11.
1 Pet. 3: 11.
Zee. 1: 21.
Deut. 3: 5.
Jer. 2: 36.
Mat. 3: 12.
Rom. 11: 17.
Ex. 28: 32.
Ex. 13: 18.
Psa. 83: 8.
Dan. 3: 21.
Mat. 4: 2.
Caps, head dress.
Eze. 13: 18.
Gen. 32: 15,
Gen. 18: 28.
Gen. 21: 12.
Psa. 4: 2.
Mat. 17: 12.
Rom. 1: 13.
1 Chr. 22: 5.
Isa. 3: 19.
Neh. 2: 1.
Eze. 24: 11.
Isa. 18: 2.
Cut or dress the hair.
Eze. 44: 20.
Ex. 12: 9.
Acts 10: 42.
Gen. 49: 27.
2 Kings 4: 38.
1 Pet. 5: 10.
Gen. 43: 7.
Mat. 25: 26.
Gen. 25: 29.
Ex. 26: 6.
Ex. 5: 8.
1 Sam. 18: 21.
Ex. 35: 22.
2 Chr. 9: 11.
Isa. 51: 6.
2 Sam. 17: 17.
Eze. 30: 2.
Ex. 16: 15.
Besides these obsolete terms, there are many antiquated phrases. Space
will permit us to name the following only: “Good man of the house,” for
master of the family, or householder/ Mat. 20: 10. “Hunger bitten,” for
weakened with hunger. Job 18: 12. “Take no thought,” for be not anx¬
ious. Mat. 6: 25. “Laughed him to scorn,” for derided him. Mat. 6: 24,
‘•'Cast the same in his teeth,” for reproved him. Mat. 27: 44. “Know
nothing by myself,” for I know nothing against myself. 1 Cor. 4: 4.
V. THE ENGLISH VERSION IS SECTARIAN, &C.
The English version was intended to promote the interest of the church of
England as the translators avow in the preface, and the volume itself gives
abundant internal evidence of that fact. The translation of doxa in Luke
14: 10, by the word worship can only be accounted for by its improper use
in the marriage ceremony of that church—‘with my body, I thee worship,’
The Liturgy was made in the days of Henry VIII; its use of terms must
receive a sanction in the Sacred Writings. For a similar reason we read
of the “time of visitation and of robbers of churches ”—as if the Bible had
been conversant with bishops, and sanctioned the application of the word
church to the edifice in which worshipers convene. To justify the prac¬
tice of the Universities, the term didaskaloi —teachers, is rendered Doc¬
tors, as if the primitive Christians were accustomed to gratify the ambition
of men by conferring ecclesiastical titles of superiority and honor. To pro¬
duce the impression upon the common reader that the Galileans had es¬
tates similar to the Glebes of England, the word estates is supplied in Mark
6: 21, where the original simply speaks of the chiefs or principal men in
Galilee in the plural number. To render sacred a feast celebrated by the
ancient Saxons to a Tutonic goddess, the word pascha is translated Easter,
instead of Passover, in Acts 12: 4. For sectarian purposes, the word
episcopos is translated bishop whenever it implies honor, as in 1 Pet. 2:
25, Tit. 1:7; overseer when it involves the idea of labor, as in Acts 20;
28; and busy body in connection with alio trio in Pet. 4: 15, where it im¬
plies the idea of censure.
Nor are the high pretensions of the British monarch less favorably con¬
sulted. Both fear and policy might have dictated this course. Hence the
expression, “God save the King” is inserted to import peculiar sacredness
to monarchy. The prophet affirmed that Israel had sinned in asking for a
King; the people confessed the fact. 1 Sam. 12: 19, 20. To indicate that
there are no heaven-appointed rulers but Kings, the words ho basileus ton
basileuon ton are translated “King of Kings,” in 1 Tim. 6: 15, instead of
King of them that reign. To awe the people into servile submission to
the monarch’s mandates, they are told in Rom. 13: 2, that “they who re¬
sist shall receive to themselves damnation— a term among Christians which
always applies to the punishment of the soul in hell, The original word
h'ima is frequently translated condemnation, and in that text it means no
more than the condemnation of the power which is resisted, or the gov¬
ernment which the rebels attempt to overthrow.
VI. SUPPLIED OR ADDED WORDS.
The English version contains an unnecessary and injurious number of
supplied words, for which nothing stands in the original. If all the added
or Italic words in the English Scriptures were arranged together, they
would form as many words as there are in the 1st Epistle of Peter!—
Sometimes a command, for which there is no inspired voucher, is given in
these words, 1 Tim. 1: 14. They frequently convey erroneous ideas. Take
as an example Mat. 20: 22, “But it shall be given to them, for whom it is
prepared of my Father.” The Italic words are added by the translators.
They not only render dubious our Lord’s exclusive authority as the Judge
of all; but they insinuate that some other person than the Son will distri¬
bute rewards at the day of Judgment. In other passages they assign rea¬
sons which weakens the force of the original expression. 1 Cor. 1: 8.
In about 28 years after the first edition of King James’ version, the
translation was submitted to a more rigid scrutiny. More than 10,000
added words which the translators failed to mark by Italic letters were
properly designated. This fact is proved by the American Bible Society,
whose recent committee report 24,000 corrections of different kind as still
needed. The Society which circulates the King’s version, cannot in truth
add the words—“The Bible without notes or comments.”
We have with more pain than pleasure adverted to some of the defects
of the English version. Necessity has imposed this task upon us. The
opposers of revision commend the English version in general terms, and
secretly attribute improper motives to those who seek to remove its de¬
fects. We love the Bible too well to sanction its erroneous and inadequate
renderings; its'grammatical inaccuracies; its numerous expressions which
are wanting in delicacy, purity and perspicuity. We find no fault with the
expressions or sentiments of the sacred writers; but with the English ha-
bilaments in which the translators have clothed these inspired sentiments.
Let our opponents, who have lately directed their virulence against the
workmen rather than the work, attempt to prove that the glaring devia¬
tions from the original should not be removed from the English Scriptures.
The inspired copy is full, clear and beautiful, and the English Bible ought
to reflect the same characteristics.
VII. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE AMERICAN BIBLE UNION.
The necessity of translating and circulating the Sacred Scriptures was
early felt by the primitive Christians. It is probable that Matthew’s Gos¬
pel, and the Epistle to the Hebrews were written first in the Hebrew lan¬
guage, and translated into the Greek by the Apostles themselves. Cer¬
tain it is, that in the ages immediately following that of the Apostles, the
Bible was translated into various languages. During the time of the gen-
eral apostacy, called the Dark Ages, priests and monks took the key of
knowledge from the people. In the days of Wyckliffe, a brighter era
dawned upon Christendom, and prepared the way for the age of transla¬
tions in the 16th century. The invention of the art of printing greatly
contributed to multiply copies of the Scriptures, and the organization of
Bible Societies gave numerous facilities for their circulation.
The British and Foreign Bible Society was formed in 1804, at the very
period when the Baptist Missionaries in India, were zealously engaged in
translating God’s word into the languages of the Asiatics. Mr. Hughes
wrote to Dr. Carey inquiring how he had translated the word baptizo'(
The venerable translator promptly replied that he had translated baptizo by
words signifying to immerse, and episcopos by a word signifying an over¬
seer. In 1832, nineteen years after the inquiry was made, owing to the
bigotry" of three Pedo-Baptist Missionaries who prompted the inquiry, and
who died before the reply was received, the Society resolved, “Not to
sanction any version in which baptizo and its cognates are translated to im¬
merse.” In April 1833, the Society concluded “not to grant aid to any
translations that do not conform to the English version.” This principle
was adopted by the American Bible Society in 1836, making the English
version with all its errors the standard of foreign translations. To this
principle the Baptists neither could nor would agree, as it offered the high¬
est indignity to the original, and contravened the instructions which the
Missionary Board of the Triennial Convention, in 1833, had given to their
Missionaries; “Endeavor by earnest prayer and diligent study to ascertain
die precise meaning of the original text, and express that meaning as ex¬
actly as the nature of the languages, into which the translation of the Bi¬
ble is made, will permit, transferring no words which are capable of being
translated.” The action of the American Bible Society in this matter,
compelled the Baptists to withdraw, leaving about $100,000 of their
funds in the Treasury of that Society.
In 1837, the American and Foreign Bible Society was fully organized
upon the avowed principles expressed by the Missionary Board of the Tri¬
ennial Convention. The province and duty of the Society are unequivo¬
cally set forth in the Annual Address and Report for the year 1837, its
views relative to the principle of the transfer, or making the English ver¬
sion the standard of translation, may be seen in the reported speeches de¬
livered at its organization, when the American Bible Society is represented
as a railroad carrying contraband goods in the name of religion. Let any
candid man take into consideration the circumstances under which this So¬
ciety was formed, its avowed principles, the often repeated views of its Of¬
ficers and Agents, and.if he will not conclude that the American and For¬
eign Bible Society has betrayed and abandoned the very platform upon
which it was formed, evidence must have lost its power. By a public vote
in 1850, it rejected the very sentiments it avowed in 1837. The follow¬
ing resolution was rejected by a vote of the Society in 1850: Resolved,
“That it is the duty of the American and Foreign Bible Society to circu¬
late the Scriptures in the most faithful versions that can be procured.”
This Baptistic principle being rejected, let the advocates of the Society de¬
fine what kind of version it becomes them to circulate. At the same
meeting, the following resolution was adopted: Resolved, “That this So¬
ciety in its issues and circulation of the English Scriptures, be restricted
to the commonly received version, without note or comment.” The So¬
ciety, being not yet satisfied, passed the following: Resolved, “That it is
not the province and duty of the American and Foreign Bible Society on
their own part, or to procure from others, a revision of the commonly re¬
ceived English version of the Sacred Scriptures.” The British and For¬
eign Bible Society, and the American Bible Society, made the English ver¬
sion the standard of foreign translations; the American and Foreign Bible
Society endorsed its fidelity so far as to declare revision unnecessary ! If
it be not the “province and duty” of that Society “on their own part,
or to seek from others a revision of the English Scriptures,” can it be
their “province and duty” to seek the revision of the Scriptures in any
language ? Are they not prepared to circulate the Spanish version in
which Jacob is made to worship the top of his staff; or the Russian ver¬
sion in which haptizo is translated to cross; or the version of one of the
American Indian tribes, where baptize is rendered sprinkle.
The revision movements have met with more violent opposition from the
professed friends of the American and Foreign Bible Society than from
all other sources besides. Pulpits have been closed, newspapers are de¬
clining our appeals, and our plans and motives have been sadly misrepre¬
sented. This compels us in self-defense to make known facts and dwell
on themes which are not pleasing to ourselves. Many of us are Life Mem¬
bers of that Society, and more than once in our lives we have prayed and
contributed to advance its interest. Had that Society preserved its origi¬
nal pledges, it would have still received our cordial co-operation.
Early in the history of the American and Foreign Bible Society, an ap¬
plication came from Boston, desiring an appropriation for the circulation
of the French version. It was referred to a sub-committee, who reported
adversely, as the French version transferred all words relative to baptism.
The committee called attention to the necessity of revising that version.
The Board unanimously adopted the report. Means were used to revise
the French version, and some corrections have been made, and some copies
circulated, before the meeting of the American and Foreign Bible Society,
when the officers were changed. The new officers and Board rejected the
corrections, and are now .contentedly circulating the old transfer version of
France. Actions speak louder than words, and frequently contradict them.
The Baptist Missionaries in India translated baptizo by words signifying
to immerse; the Board of the American and Foreign Bible Society recently
pronounced the English version more faithful than the translations made
by our Missionaries. If true, for consistency’s sake cease to circulate
them until they are revised. Call Judson and Yates back from another
world, that they may perform a work which we supposed they had done.
On the 10th of June, 1850, the friends of pure versions, including the
former President, Corresponding and Recording Secretaries, and Treasurer
of the American and Foreign Bible Society, formed the American Bible
Union. Its object is “to procure and circulate the most faithful versions
jjf the Sacred Scriptures in all languages throughout the world.” It de¬
signs to have the Bible speak with one voice among all nations. How im¬
portant is the object to this and all coming ages ? This Institution is es¬
tablished upon principles dear to every true lover of God’s word, and the
existence of the. Society is identified with the vindication of truth at home,
VII. OBJECTIONS ANSWERED.
No great work has ever been undertaken and accomplished in any age,
without having to contend with violent opposition. It is not to be expected
that the work of revising the English Scriptures should be an exception.
No translation or revision of the English Bible designed for general circu¬
lation was ever introduced without prejudice and superstition being directed
against it. The supposed sanctity of the existing version; the desire of
teachers and pastors to gain pre-eminence over their people; the love of
applause and the dread of a sectarian frown; the selfishness of Agents
who are moved by personal interest, are sufficient to give existence to the
most unwarrantable opposition.
The most common objections urged against revision are the following:
1. The commonly received version tends, to preserve the purity of the En¬
In this objection it is assumed that the Bible is the standard of the En¬
glish language. Is it true ? Who goes to the English Bible to ascertain
the laws of language or the meaning of words ? A school teacher, who
is known in common conversation to use the obsolete terms we have en-
numerated or follows the grammatical inaccuracies interspersed through¬
out the volume, would soon cease to be employed. With reference to
language, the English version presents a singular compound. Occasion¬
ally we find an unwarrantable aversion to the use of words of Roman
origin, hence keep back is used for suppress; call upon for invoke; bow down
for incline; lift up for exalt; stretch out for extend; put out for extinguish,
cry out for exclaim; put away for divorce; put asunder for separate; cut
off for reject; let go for dismiss.
From these and similar instances the uninformed reader may suppose
that the translators have preferred plain and simple terms, and rejected
all learned expressions and words hard to be understood. He will soon
find, however, that his impressions were premature, for among others he
will meet the following:—Tetrarch, for a Governor over the fourth part of
a province; proselyte for convert; centurion for an officer over four sol¬
diers; legion for myriads, or a body of soldiers; scribe for writer; infidel for
unbeliever; matrix for womb; occurrest for incident; vocation for calling;
omnipotent for Almighty; illuminated for enlightened; delectable for de¬
lightful: immutable for unchangeable; celestial for heavenly; terrestrial
for earthly; partition for division; diversity for variety; importunity for
earnest entreaty; inquisition for inquiry; prognosticator for foreteller; am¬
bassador for embassy; cogitation for thought; exact for demand; exaction
for tribute; inordinate for irregular, laud for praise; abjure for put on
oath; implead for going to law; disannul for make void; consort for part¬
ner; amerce for fine; incensed for enraged; mollified for softened; exorcise
for one who drives away evil spirits. These facts are a sufficient answer
to the first objection.
2. The agitation of the necessity of revision has been represented as pro - * i
mating the cause of infidelity.
When Christians in past ages demanded a translation of the Sacred Wri¬
tings, priests and monks affirmed that infidelity would be promoted by
such act. As early as the days of Jerome, the same note of alarm was
sounded by persons of no less distinction than Ruffinus and Augusttne.
Jerome, however, proceeded with his work of translating the Sacred Scrip¬
tures into Latin in spite of the dissuasions of friends and the invectives of
enemies. After the work appeared, no hideous consequences were reali¬
zed, and the cries of alarm were heard no more. Jerome’s translation,
without any royal edict, or the sanction of Council until the 16th century,
superceded the Italic version.
About the time of the Reformation, the era of translations, the same
tocsin of alarm was heard throughout Europe. What was the actual re¬
sult ? The Bible was more generally read, knowledge increased and the
cause of Christianity was promoted. Dr. Whitby, a man of distinguished
learning and abilities, was alarmed at Mill’s publication concerning the dif¬
ferent Greek readings, as dangerous to the cause of Christianity. Has
the lapse of 145 years confirmed the correctness of these forebodings, or
has not the various readings of 30,000 manuscripts placed the integrity of
the Scriptures in stronger light than ever, and setting at defiance all cavil
and suspicions ? The Historian is as much indebted to oriental languages
for a knowledge of Ancient History, as the Divine is indebted to the me¬
dium of the Hebrew and the Greek for his knowledge of theology. Does
this consideration unhinge the confidence of mankind in the facts of his¬
Why raise the “hue and cry,” about promoting infidelity by showing
the defects of the English Version? Is it not true that nineteen twentieths
of all the caviling’s of infidels, are based upon some misrendering of the
sacred text. To admit the errors of the English Version, and to oppose
their removal, gives infidelity its most effective handle. Lev God speak
for himself in his own way, and the cause of truth has nothing to fear.
Ho writer against infidelity, from the days of King James until now, has
ever succeeded in his work without correcting the errors of the common
version; and no student leaves any theological school in this country with¬
out having spent much of his time in detecting and being able to remove
the mistranslations of the English Scriptures.
3. The commonly received version is good enough for me, and for my chil¬
So cries the advocate for sprinkling. To be satisfied with the acknowl¬
edged errors in preference to truth, betrays indifference or superstition.
Doubtless, the multitude made a similar statement when the present Eng¬
lish Scriptures were yet in the hands of the translators. If they did not,
all history is false. One person may be satisfied with less than the truth,
another may want more than the truth, the desires of both are anti-chris-
itan—were never planted by the Holy Spirit,
What imparts such sacredness to the English Version, with its admitted
defects, as to render it good enough for us and for our children ? Is it an-
tiquity? There are other versions more ancient . Is it its fidelity ? Where
it is a true representative of the original, we do not propose to alter it.
Are not the Genevan and other English Versions, which the present has
superceded, better transcripts of the Original Scriptures ?
But one claims it as the means of his conversion. Admit all this, and
will the inaccuracies, and defects of the English Version be any less?
These errors converted no man to God. It is the law of the Lord which
is powerful converting the soul:—not obsoletes, antiquated phrases and in¬
correct renderings. Other versions had been instrumental in the conver-
sion of our forefathers; but that did not parahze the hands of the British
Monarch, in Hampton Court when he ordered a new translation to be made.
Had the objector lived 28 years after the first edition of the commonly
received version, perhaps he would have objected to the revision which
took place about that time. By consulting any edition issued before the
year 1639, the reader will be satisfied that several emendations were made
at that period. Aliant in Job 19: 15, was changed into alien; chaws into
jaws in Eze. 29: 4; fet into fetched in Acts 28: 13; leese into lose 1 Kings
18: 15; marishes into marshes in Eze. 47: 11; mo into more in Deut, 1: 11;
sith into since in Jer. 25: 17; mids into midst in Luke 23: 45; oweth into
oioneth in Acts 21: 11, <fcc. &c. Can it be praiseworthy to revise a version
without the knowledge of the people, and yet be censurable to do the work
under the scrutinizing eye of the learned world ?
4. The want of universal co-operation has been alledged against revision.
Had Jesus and his Apostles delayed the work of spreading the Gospel
until general co-operation had been secured even among the professed
friends of truth, the work of the world’s conversion would never have
been commenced. Had Luther waited until the note of opposition had
been hushed, the man of sin would have cannonized him. If Baptists
will never immerse—practice open communion—or preach the doctrine of
the Saints’ perseverance until they secure the sanction of their opponents,
the work will never be done. To demand the co-operation of the various
sects into which the Christian world is divided, is to require what has nev¬
er characterized any English Version, or any other version in Christendom.
The objection implies the most violent opposition to the work, and betrays
the cowardice of the man that offers it. He is unwilling; to trust the sub-
ject to the necessity of the work—to the ability of the present age to per¬
form it, and to the protection of God to defend his own truth.
5. A revised version may lead to the translation of baptizo by the word im¬
merse. The Greek word baptizo and its cognates occur in the New Testa¬
ment 123 times. These words are not without a meaning. Baptist Mis¬
sionaries in. foreign lands have rendered them by terms signifying to im¬
merse, and in their translation they have received the sanction of the Bap¬
tist denomination. The most ancient versions and many modern ones
have done the same. Do these words mean immerse in Burmah, and
mean something else in the English language ? Baptist pulpitsaffirm their
signification to immerse. Baptist Editors, professors, and ministers, in
their opposition to a revised version, contradict their pulpit ministrations,
and give more efficient service to the cause of sprinkling than its advo¬
cates are able to impart. In words, baptizo signifies to immerse; in print
it means to baptize. ‘Fifteen persons were baptized in Zanesville.’ Who
can tell by English dictionaries what was done to those persons ? Were
they immersed, had water sprinkled or poured upon them, or were they
merely named? All Yankeedom cannot tell. When the Grecian used
baptizo, was there any difficulty to know what action was performed? Is
the English language capable of expressing that action ? If so let it be
done; if not, who can express the idea to the English people, or what Lexi¬
con can define the Greek word ? If it cannot be expressed in the Bible,
it cannot be in the Lexicons.
Let us examine the import of the English word baptize, as defined by
the most popular dictionaries of the schools. Worcester says, it means
“to immerse in water; to administer baptism to; to sprinkle with water; to
christen.” Webster defines it by the second and fourth of the foregoing
definitions. Is sprinkling any part of the meaning of baptizo in Greek ?
Let him who asserts it, prove it. It seems to be a part of the meaning of
the word baptize according to the usus loquendi of the English people.
The question is one of fact, not of theory. Popular usage defines the
meaning of words and we may as well attempt to raise the dead as to re¬
sist it. What is baptism according to the definition of Dr. Webster? To
baptize is to administer the rite of baptism; to administer the rile of bap¬
tism is to baptize. To baptize is to christen, to christen is to baptize !!
What a learned and incorrect definition, equalled only by Dr. Johnson’s
definition of the term net-work. “Any thing reticuled or decussated with
interstices at equal distances between the intersections.” What learned
ingenuity has been employed to blind the multitude respecting an impor¬
tant ordinance of the New Testament, no small part of which has arisen
from the transfer into the English Version of a Greek word well under¬
stood. If baptizo means to sprinkle, pour, wet, pop, stain, purify, circum¬
cise, <fec &c., let it be so translated. We have no other object but truth in
its translation, regardless of the denomination, sect or party, which may
be injuriously affected by the truth. Leo God speak so as to be unequivo¬
6. The Baptists ought not to do this work.
Why not ? If the work is needed, and who doubts it, why is it not the
province and duty of the Baptists to engage in it ? They have never been
known to shrink from the odium resulting from maintaining and vindica¬
ting the truth. Who needs to be afraid or ashamed to hear of a ‘Baptist
Bible ?” If the Book of God sustains our sentiments and practice, then
of necessity it is a Baptist Bible; if it does not, it is high time for us to
change our sentiments and rectify our practice. “But such revision will
injure the Baptist cause.” The pure and unadulterated word will injure
the Baptist cause! What conscientious Baptist believes it ? If truth will
injure our cause, then let us be injured. “Let God be true, if every man
be a liar.”
“It will shock our opponents and they will demolish us as a denomina¬
tion.” Truly it will be the shock of an earthquake, breaking away from
their unsafe moorings the fabrics of human delusions which have institu-
ted for doctrines the commandments of men. Can any Baptist believe
that God’s truth faithfully translated can injure our cause ? Unwavering
fidelity to truth is our motto, and as soldiers we dare not yield to fear.
Silly wit and sardonic sneers cannot demolish a people who in different
ages were able to survive the fires of persecution, imprisonment, the dens
of the Inquisition, and every instrument of torture which human ingenuity
Why should not the Baptists be the first in every good work. Tell us
of an important movement in the work of civil and moral reform, in any
age, where Baptists were not found in the van. Who was Wyckliffe the
morning star of the Reformation ? Who w r as Milton, the lord of British
poets ? What were the religious sentiments of Isaac Newton, the “great¬
est and rarest genius England ever produced.” Who first promulgated in
our own country the “heretical doctrine” that the regulation of the con¬
science belongs exclusively to God?—Roger Williams. Where was Thom¬
as Jefferson first taught the true idea of Republicanism ? Who originated
the Monthly Concert of prayer for the conversion of the heathens ? Who
projected the BritisLi and Foreign Bible Society, organized the first Total
Abstinence Society in America, and published the first temperance paper
in the world ? Who was the first to suffer martyrdom under modern Pa¬
pacy, and the last, bringing up the rear guard in the days of King James
I ? Answer Jhese questions and then state the reason why Baptists ought
not to sustain their usual position in every important enterprise ?
But is it true that the Baptists are alone in this work ? Are they enti¬
tled to all the honors of desiring to revise the English Scriptures ? Did
John Wesley deem the English Version a faithful transcript of the original
when he issued a new translation of the New Testament ? Did Robert
Lowth, Michel Dodson, Benjamin Blayney, Richard Stack, Gilbert Wake¬
field, William Newcombe—all Episcopaleans, regard the English Version
faithful, when they gave the world new translations of the whole, or cer¬
tain portions of the Sacred Oracles ? Did Doddridge, George Campbell,
McKnight, Moses Stuart, Albert Barnes and Dr. Alexander of the Pres-
byterian or Congregational churches consider the English Version incapa¬
ble of improvement when they translated anew various portions of the
Old and of the Hew Testament? Every new translation made since the
year 1611, implies that the common version is imperfect. Besides these
facts there are some denominations, and thousands of men out of every
sect who earnestly desire a revision of the English Scriptures, and who
will be among the first to procure the volume when it appears. In the
list of learned men who are prepared to engage in the work of revision,
we find those belonging to the various orthodox denominations in Chris¬
tendom. In the translation of the common version, no hand was permit¬
ted to engage except Episcopalians. Some Baptists may confide 'in Epis- I
copalians while they distrust their own brethren. We are not of that
7. The Baptists will lose their name as a denomination if baptizo is translated. \
Can we consent to mutilate the Holy Scriptures in the English language,
and hide the mind of the Spirit in order to retain a name ? The martyrs
were called heretics , they died with as much triumph as if they had been
called saints. The man who values his name more than his principles,
never received his education in the school of Jesus and his Apostles.
In fact this objection is a sophistry. The word episcopos is translated
bishop; but are Episcopalians called Bishopites? The Greek word presbu-
teros is translated elders; but are Presbyterians called Elderites? Pedo
baptist means infant immersionist; but Rhantizers have retained it not¬
withstanding their sprinkling. Strange it is that extremes meet. Pedo-
baptists tremble for their dogma; Baptists quake for their popularity and
8. The work will involve too much expense.
Within a few months much has been said, written and insinuated, con¬
cerning the expense connected with the enterprize of revising the English
Scriptures. There is policy in urging such an objection, as an appeal to
men’s pockets frequently proves more powerful than an appeal to their un¬
derstanding and consciences. And indeed, by exaggerating the expendi¬
ture of any benevolent society, especially in its infancy, the means to car¬
ry on the work may be cut off and the cause itself be forced to cease.—
Such a course may be adopted too, in order to call off attention from
other organizations unfriendly to our work. Whatever is spent in circu¬
lating the common version in this country, is wholly unnecessary. The
American Bible Society can and does furnish that version cheaper than
any denominational society can do it. This is proved by the report of
a recent Committee of the American and Foreign Bible Society. Af¬
ter one year’s deliberation, the Committee state that the American and
Foreign Bible Society has annually lost 26£ per cent, in the work of home
distribution. This is unnecessry, the heathens need the benefit of such
funds, American churches do not.
Indeed, the labors of the American and Foreign Bible Society,—as the
institution sustains no great and important principles, and possesses not
the ‘province nor duty to revise’ incorrect versions, in heathen lands—are
of a doubtful character. All its labors may be more economically and
efficiently performed by the Missionary Union, whose Missionaries at the
present time have to perform all the work of Bible distribution among the
. heathens. Notwithstanding these self-evident truths, the Agents and or-
je gans of the American and Foreign Bible Society have attempted in vari-
lf j ous ways to clog the wheels of the American Bible Union, by insinuations
i e relative to expenditures, and by reflecting upon the character and motives
r i of its officers. The officers of the American Bible Union are men of
known and tried integrity, and business capacity, which their opponents
may envy but cannot excel.
It has been estimated that the British Monarch expended one hundred
. thousand dollars in procuring the commonly received version—a small sum
for the throne of England; but nearly equal to the amount expended by
the American Bible Society during the last eight years for the whole hea¬
then world. About twenty-five years of the life of the immortal Judson,
were devoted to the translation of the Bible into the language of Burmah.
No lover of that holy enterprise complained of the amount of Missionary
funds expended upon that work. The American Bible Union is economi¬
cal and scrupulous in its expenditures both at home and abroad. In the
course of two years, with the generous aid of the friends of pure versions,
that Society, in co-operation with your Association, will be enabled to fur¬
nish a faithfully revised version of the New Testament to the English peo¬
ple. Heaven speed the day.
ADDRESS OF REV. A. MACLAY, D. D.
Mr. President and Brethren : — I greet you all, most cordially, as¬
sembled on this interesting occasion. I thank my God and Father, the
God of the Bible, that I am permitted to witness your meeting—for a pur¬
pose which nearly concerns His glory—for the promotion of an object that
lies very near to my heart.
In speaking to you thus assembled on a subject, which it has been my
privelege to plead before most of you in your several fields of labor, and
before many of you while enjoying the hospitality of your respective homes,
I need not say how high a sense I entertain of its importance. I have
lived and labored for the accomplishment of the cherished hope that the
Bible, faithfully translated, may be brought within the reach of all men,
of every tongue, not excepting those who speali the English language. Life
is but a shadow, which continueth but a little and then vanishes away.—
This reflection comes home impressively to a man who has passed the nar¬
row limit of three score years and ten. I have felt that it became me to
work, “while it is called day, for behold! the'night cometh when no man can
work.” Thus laboring, I have earnestly desired, if the will of God be so,
that I may before I die, put a pure Bible into the hands of my children and
grand children. I know not if I shall see the great work accomplished, but
1 am cheered by the confidence, that by the establishment of the American
Bible Union, the great principle for which we have contended, is secure;
and that, by the blessing of, God upon the judicious measures adopted by
the Union, a faithful revision of the English Bible will speedily be accom¬
plished. This Convention strengthens my confidence that whether I live to
see it or no, the work will be done ; and the assured anticipation of it will
at least be grateful to me in a dying hour.
The 'principles and intentions of the American Bible Union.
In introducing the subject itself to your consideration this morning, I
cannot do better than read to you a portion of a statement, of the princi¬
ples and intentions of the American Bible Union, which has been put,in my
hands since I entered this meeting:
“The American Bible Union was organized June 10th, 1850, “to pro¬
cure and circulate the most faithful versions of the Sacred Scriptures in all
languages throughout the world.”— Constitution.
“The Board adopted the following resolution, which was subsequently
sanctioned by the Union.
“ ‘That appropriotions made by the Union, shall in no case be employed
tor the circulation of a version which is not made on the following princi¬
ples, viz: The exact meaning of the inspired text, as that text expressed
it to those who understood the original Scriptures at the time they were
iirst written, must be translated by corresponding words and phrases, so far
as they can be found, in the vernacular tongue of those for whom the ver¬
sion is designed, with the least possible obscurity or indefitiveness.”
“In accordance with the object set forth in the Constitution, the Bible
Union seeks to procure a faithfully revised version of the English Scrip¬
tures and similar versions in other European and in heathen languages.
The design is to have the Bible speak with one voice throughout the world.
“Missionaries now complain that, as intelligent heathen learn the English
language, they discover the discrepencies between our version and the
translations made by the missionaries; and they naturally conclude that
the latter are wrong , as it is inconceivable that Christiaps in America should
circulate among their own countrymen known errors, and print the truth
only for the heathen !
“In the version commonly used in this country are many acknowledged
errors and obscurities, some affecting the essential doctrines of the Chris¬
tian faith, and others the rules of Christian conduct. The divinity of Je¬
sus Christ, and other truths dear to the heart of the believer, would shine
out far more clearly and gloriously after a faithful revision. The strongest
and most effective arguments of infidelity and scepticism among the com¬
mon people, are founded upon mistranslations of the words of inspiration.
“Similar remarks apply also to the versions in common use throughout
the greater part of the European continent and among the descendants of
Europeans scattered over the world. These are generally conformed to the
English version, or the Latin Vulgate, and almost slavishly copy the er¬
rors and imperfections of these versions.
“We believe it to be our duty to do all in our power to correct such evils.
It is not for us to inquire, how much of God’s truth may be concealed from
men without material injury to their souls. The infidel distinction between
essentials and non-essentials in matters of duty is not to be found in Scrip¬
ture. GOD says:
“ ‘Ye shall not add to the word that I command you, neither shall ye
diminish aught from it.” Deut. 4: 2.
“ ‘If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the
plagues that are written in this book. And, if any man shall take away
from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part
out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which
are written in this book.” Rev. 22: 18, 19.
“Here is no room for the doctrine of expediency, that bane of Christian
principle, which withers the energies and neutralizes the influence of so
many who profess the name of Christ!
“We refer to the Annual Report for the year ending Oct. 3, 1851, for an
explanation of all that has been done by the Bible Union, particularly in
respect to the revision of the Spanish, the French, and the English Scrip¬
tures. We shall probably have a corrected Spanish Testament in circula¬
tion within a year. The arrangements for the French are very favorable,
but not so mature. In the plan adopted for the English, the following prin¬
ciple is embodied :
“ ‘To give to the ordinary reader, as nearly as possible, the exact mean¬
ing of the inspired original, while so far as compatible with this design,
the general style and phraseology of the commonly received version are
retained.” The plan includes the employment of Paedobaptist as well as
Baptist scholarship of the highest character. No compromise of the truth
in its simplicity, its purity, and its clearness will be made, to gain the co¬
operation and sanction of any man or body of men. But while the princi¬
ple of the most scrupulous fidelity to God is inflexibly adhered to, no suit¬
able means will be neglected to bring forth the book with the greatest
weight of human authority, which, consistently with that principle, can be
Such are our principles and intentions, and I am happy to say that they
are in a fair state of progress towards successful execution.
Tl\e providence of God has smiled upon us. We believe that the work
is the Lord’s, and from indications daily received, we are encouraged in
the assurance that he will bring it to pass.
Origin of the movement. Baptist Translations—and the British and For¬
eign Bible Society.
You may be interested and instructed in tracing with me in outline, the
history of the movement from its commencement. Its fundamental princi¬
ple—the Bible, and the Bible alone the rule of faith and practice—has al¬
ways been dear to Baptists, and this movement might be traced back to
their suffering, even unto death in its defence. But the circumstances,
which more immediately led to our movement, took their rise in the Board
of the American Bible Society upon an application by Messrs Yates and
Pearce, for aid in the circulation of the Bengalee New Testament. We
may go back of that action to explain the circumstances in which this ap¬
plication was made.
You all know what distinguished honor God has put upon the Baptists by
choosing from among them his chief agents in modern times in giving His
word to the heathen. From the commencement of this work by Dr. Carey,
our Baptist translators have felt themselves under solemn obligations to God
and to the souls of men, to make the inspired language of the Bible their only
standard, and to make faithful translations of it into other languages, with¬
out addition, diminution, or concealment. When our common version was
made, the translators were restrained in the use of all due fidelity by the
instructions of King James. But our Baptist brethren were not manacled
by the mandates of any earthly despot. Bowing only to Him, who has all
authority in Heaven and on the earth, they faithfully translated every word
of the Divine Oracles. Of course, they uniformly rendered baptizo by a
word, or words, signifying to immerse.
In the work of translating and circulating the Scriptures, Dr. Carey and
his associates received liberal aid from the British and Foreign Bible Socie¬
ty. Nor did that Society aid them in ignorance of the character of their
In 1813, Mr. Hughes, the Secretary, stated to the Baptist Board of Mis¬
sions, of which he was a member, that the managers of the Biljle Society
wished that the Missionaries would transfer the word baptizo instead of
translating it. The Board unanimously replied, that they could not instruct
the Missionaries to conceal any part of the truth of-God from the nations
of the earth. Bro. Hughes reported this consciencious decision to the man¬
agers, but it made no difference in the readiness and liberality with which
the Society aided the translations. Nearly twenty years subsequent to this
incident, some Pedo-baptist Missionaries in India found themselves embar¬
rassed by the conviction of the natives, that sprinkling was not baptism.
Through the influence of these Missionaries, aid was refused to Messrs
Yates and Pearce, in the publication of a version of the New Testament
in the Bengalee language, on the ground that baptizo was rendered by a
word, signifying to immerse. An American Pedo-baptist in India, at the
time, advised them to apply for aid to the American Bible Society, urging
that there was no religious establishment in America—that all denomina¬
tions were placed on an equality, and that the partiality and intolerance,
which had influenced the British Society, would find no sympathy in
American breasts. This advice led to the application of which I have spo¬
The American Bible Society forced the friend.s of faithful translations to a
You will perceive that the principles and practice of Baptist translators
were matters of notoriety before the American Bible Society was institu¬
ted. The communication of Mr. Hughes with the Baptist Board was from
1813 to 1816. Our brethren had made twenty-seven versions of the Bible
which were in extensive circulation. The American Bible Society was not
organized till 1816. Its declared object was “the dissemination of the
Scriptures in the received versions where they existed, and the most faithful
where they may be required.” Upon this basis we united with it. Our
principles were known. We united as Baptists. Nothing in the terms of
the compact required or implied a sacrifice of our principles. In 1833, our
Missionary Board adopted and published a resolution, instructing their
Missionaries, who might be engaged in translating the Scriptures, “to en¬
deavor by earnest prayer and diligent study to ascertain the exact meaning
of the original text, to express that meaning as exactly as the languages
into which they shall translate the Bible will permit, and to transfer no
words which are capable of being literally translated.” I was present
when copies of this resolution were handed to the officers and managers of
the American Bible Society. But as it expressed no change of principles
or practice, on the part of Baptists, it excited no surprise and led to no in-
ruptions in our relations to the Society. You will perceive that from the
beginning, it must have been well understood on what terms we formed a
component part of that body.
I say it without boasting, that as a denomination, we brought our full
share of capital and labor to the common enterprise.
Our Missionaries had translated the Bible into languages spoken by more
than half of the entire population of the globe. Our bequests, donations,
and contributions had been liberal. Two of our brethren had bequeathed
$45,000. The Rev. B. M. Hill, now Secretary of the Home Mision Society,
has shown good ground for the conclusion, that “during their connection
with the Society, the Baptists contributed $170,000.” On the other hand,
I may mention that from first to last, less than $30,000 has been appro¬
priated by the Society to aid versions by Baptist translators. But though
we acted with liberality and in good faith throughout, a time came when
the choice was presented to us to abandon the American Bible Society, or
to abandon the truth.
On the application of Messrs Yates and Pearce for aid, a committee was
appointed to take the subject into consideration. A majority of the com¬
mittee reported, “that it was inexpedient to grant aid for the publication
of any version, in which baptizo is translated by a word signifying to im¬
merse.” Dr. Cone presented a counter report. The matter was referred
to the same committee, who again reported “that it is inexpedient to grant
aid to any version except those that conform to the common English Ver¬
sion, at least so far as that all religious denominations, represented in this
Society, can consistently use and circulate them.” After lengthened dis¬
cussion, and in the face of our earnest expostulations, this report was
adopted by a large majority on the 17th of February 1836. On the 17th
of March following, a resolution was adopted granting to the Baptists
$5,000 on condition that the versions made by them were in accordance
with the report of the committee already refered to. In other words, that
these versions conform to the common English Version, “at least so far as
that all religious denominations represented in this Society, can consistently
use and circulate them.” Such an offer requiring the concealment of all
the words relative to the ordinance of baptism, was unanimously rejected
by the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, which assembled at Hartford in
The action of the Board of the American Bible Society, of which I have
spoken, was ratified at the Annual Meeting of the Society, the 10th of May,
The American and Foreign Bible- Society—its origin, principles and object.
On the evening of that day, Baptist brethren and delegates from eleven
States of the Union, assembled in the Oliver Street Lecture Room, in the
city of Hew York, and proceeded with great unanimity to organize the
American and Foreign Bible Society—a step which was fully ratified by a
large convention at Philadelphia, in 1837. I need not dwell upon the re¬
membrance of the conflict that awaited us in the infancy of that institution.
I can recall with grateful delight the love and zeal, the fervent prayers,
and heavenly communions which animated our first councils. An outcry
against “Baptist bigotry—‘sectarianism,’—‘shaking the confidence of the
common people in the Scriptures,”—we might have expected from those
who drove us to the step they censured. But these reproaches were barbed
by professed Baptists—in some cases, the same individuals who are promi¬
nent in opposing the present movement—and using then the same arguments
against the American and Foreign Bible Society which they now employ in
its defence, and against the American Bible Union. Well may they ! For
the position of the Society then was essentially that of the Union now.
The declared object of the American and Foreign Bible Society, was, ‘to
promote a wider circulation of the Holy Scriptures, in the most faithful ver¬
sions that can be procured, in all lands, whether Christian, Mohammedan,
or Pagan.’ Such was the language used in its constitution in 1836—lan-
gunge as Catholic, comprehensive, and unrestricted as that which is used
in the constitution of the American Bible Union in 1850. “Its object shall
be to procure and circulate the most faithful versions of the Sacred Scrip¬
tures in all languages throughout the world.” Still, it has been made a
question whether a revision of the English Scriptures came within the
•scope of the former constitution ! It is true, that the circumstances which
led to the organization of the American and Foreign Bible Society, directed
its operations first and prominently to the necessities of the foreign field.
But tlie application of our principles to the necessities of our own land, was
not overlooked. Our opponents as well as our friends did not allow us to
Before we had separated from the original Society, during the protracted
discussions which preceded the final adoption of the obnoxious resolution
in 1836, we were taunted with inconsistency in using the English Version,
where the word is transferred, and yet ordering our Missionaries to trans¬
late it. We felt the force of the objection, but replied, that we had no
hand in making our English Version—its imperfections we lamented—and
we did not hesitate to anticipate a time, when we should be called upon to
give a version of the English Scriptures; and promised, in that event, to
give the whole truth, that the unlearned, as well as the learned, might know
the will of G id and their duty. The taunt we thus encountered was re¬
peated with greater force and earnestness after a separation had taken place.
Our duty with reference to the English Version was forced upon our con¬
sideration in the outset of our existence as a Society. There was much
deliberation and extensive correspondence on the subject. Baptists in gen¬
eral, I think, had but one opinion as to what would ultimately be our duty.
The only question seemed to be as to the time when a revision should be
At the annual meeting of the American and Foreign Bible Society in
New York in 1838, the venerable and beloved Dr. Nathaniel Kendrick ex¬
pressed himself strongly in favor of the Society adopting immediate meas¬
ures for procuring a revised version of the English Scriptures. Brethren
Wm. Colgate, Wm. D. Murphy and others, addressed the meeting in sup¬
port of tlie views expressed by Dr. Kendrick. I was present on that occa¬
sion, and also advocated the position of Dr. Kendrick on this subject. No
one, in that numerous assemblage, uttered a word of opposition to a revi¬
sed yersion of the English Scriptures, or the propriety of an ultimate move-
ment to procure one. But a reason for temporary delay was suggested in
the statement, that the Society was yet in its infancy, and lacked the funds
requisite for so important an undertaking.
Brother Wm. Colgate expressed his opposition to a proposition restricting
the Society for the present, to the existing English Version. The Presi¬
dent, Dr. Cone, remarked to him that the restriction was only temporary
and could be removed by the Society at any future period.
The result of our deliberations at that time, was the adoption of a reso¬
lution which fully recognized the revision of the English Scriptures as
coming within the scope of the constitution, while it directed, that for the
time being, that part of our work should be suspended. The resolution
reads thus: “Resolved, that in the distribution of the Scriptures in the
English language they will use the commonly received version until other -
vrise directed.' 1 ' Take this temporary restriction in connection with the
Catholic terms of the declaration which extended the duty of giving faith¬
ful versions to all lands, Christian, Mohammedan, and Pagan, and surely
the position of the American and Foreign Bible Society was not a dubious
one. The door was not only kept open for a revision, but it was distinctly
contemplated that the time would come when that great work would be un¬
dertaken. To that time, many of us looked forward with earnest expecta¬
The American and Foreign Bible Society assumed no position inconsis¬
tent with our principles till 1850.
There is no act of the Society which even seems to intimate any thing
else, as its ultimate intention, until the action of the Annual Meeting in
1850. We have, indeed, from first to last, disclaimed the purpose of ma¬
king either at home or abroad, a Baptist Bible in sectarian sense.—
Such a design has been imputed to us by those who opposed our applica¬
tion to the Legislature of the State of New York, for an act of incorpora¬
tion, and it was, of course, earnestly and indignantly denied. The oppo¬
nents of the American Bible Union have attempted to torture this denial
of a sectarian object, into a repudiation of the great and sacred duty to pro¬
cure and circulate a faithful Bible. But we occupy no different ground
in this Union from what we maintained in that Society. We are prepared
now as then to repel the charge of a mere sectarian purpose. Dr. Cone,
and those associated with him, deny to-day, as emphatically as they did
before the New York Legislature, the design of making a Baptist Bible.
Our views and our vindication may be found in the address of a commit¬
tee, of which Dr. Elisha Tucker was chairman. That committee declared
that “the objection to the character of the American and Foreign Bible
Society on the ground that it is a sectarian institution, is based upon an er¬
ror botli in fact and in principle. True catholicity consists in a strict and
universal adherence to the standard of the Sacred Scriptures—such adhe¬
rence constitutes the distinctive feature of the American and Foreign Bi¬
The friends of revision went on, earnestly devoted tp the promotion of
the great interests which had called the Society into existence; hoping that
the time was drawing near when the temporary restrictions might with
propriety be withdrawn. That time came. At the Annual Meeting in
1849, Hon. Isaac Davis, of Massachusetts, moved that the resolution which
restricted the Board to the use of the common English Scriptures, should
be removed, and his motion, which was seconded by Rev. C. G. Somers,
was carried by a large majority. I was witness to the delight which that
act awakened among our Baptist churches, and as agent of the Society, I
received increased subscriptions in many quarters in consideration of it.
The Board, however, though thus unfettered, judged it prudent to await
further instructions from the Society, before undertaking the correction of
the English Version.
The whole question was to be presented for the action of the Society at
its Annual Meeting, in 1850. A more than ordinary effort was put forth
to form a public sentiment in opposition to the proposed movement, and its
legitimate results were such as to excite the prejudices and fears of the
denomination. Wrong inferences were drawn as to the motives and objects
of Dr. Cone and his friends. Brethren Cone and Wyckoff had prepared
and printed, not at the expense of the Society, an edition of the New Tes¬
tament with many emendations. They expressly state in the preface,
“This book is designed for the examination of the members of the Ameri¬
can and Foreign Bible Society, to convince them that the common version
can be corrected without injury to its characteristic excellencies and with
great enhancement of its real value.” Notwithstanding this plain avowal,
a clamor was raised against these brethren as designing to foist upon the
denomination their own version. Multitudes came up to the Annual Meet¬
ing with their minds inflamed against this apparent assumption of power—
not to deliberate upon the propriety of undertaking a revision, but to vote
down a version which was already made. This opposition was not based
upon any alleged want of faithfulness in the version, for it is not unrea¬
sonable to suppose that but few of its opponents bad critically examined
it, but it was an opposition to what appeared to be a high-handed and un¬
authorized attempt to force a version upon the Society. Had the purpose
of brethren Cone and Wyckoff been, what their opponents represented it to
be, the denomination would have been right in resisting the attempt. But
bow unjust the representation was, may be gathered from the preface,
which, in addition to the statement of their design I have quoted, intima¬
ted an intention to submit to the Society a proposition by which “the busi¬
ness of rectification should be gradually prosecuted, until the Society is pre¬
pared to approve and adopt the book as a standard.” They were indeed
deeply impressed with the necessity of proceeding with great caution, and
offered as the great recommendation of the plan proposed, that it “would
submit the book to the people before its final adoption, and subject every
emendation to universal criticism before being irretrievably approved and
I am not now expressing any opinion as to the plan itself, but what I have
said will show the injustice of representing these brethren, as aiming with
selfish ambition and rash presumption to force the “Cone and Wyckoff trans¬
lation,” as it has been called, upon the Society, as a version to be adopted
and circulated. These prejudices and fears were excited when there was
no opportunity for correcting the one and delaying the other, and when
there was not sufficient time for the people to arrive at “the second sober
thought.” Under these influences, the Society met in New York, in 1850.
At that meeting it was resolved, “That this Society, in its issues and cir-
dilation of the English Scriptures, to be restricted to the commonly received
version, without note or comment.” But the simple declaration of this re¬
striction did not satisfy the opponents of revision, and improving their ad¬
vantage, they adopted another resolution, which entirely revolutionized the
“ Whereas, by the Constitution of this Society its object is to aid in the
wider circulation of the Scriptures in all lands, therefore
“Resolved, That it is not the province and duty of the American and
Foreign Bible Society to attempt on their part, or to procure from others,
a revision of the commonly received English Yersion of the Sacred Scrip¬
It had originally been avowed, as the purpose of the Society, to give
the most faithful version to all lands, and if that purpose, as regarding our
own land was, for the time being, held in abeyance, it was done in a man¬
ner that unequivocally recognized the ultimate duty—for the Board was
restricted to the received version only “until otherwise directed.” But by
the action of 1850, the Society assumes altogether a new ground. It is
not merely restricted for the present to the use of a confessedly incorrect
version, but the Society declares that it is not only inexpedient for the
present, but beyond its province and unconstitutional, to attempt to procure
and circulate a more faithful version.
To those of us who were bound in heart and conscience to the originally
avowed principle of the most faithful translations in all languages—who
had refused at the bidding of the American Bible Society in 1836, to sup¬
press God’s truth—who had cherished the hope of a time coming when we
should see in the hands of our children and fellow-citizens a faithful, un¬
mutilated and unobscured Bible—there remained no choice. We were
called upon to abandon the American and Foreign Bible Society, or to
abandon the truth, as formerly we were called upon to abandon the Ameri¬
can Bible Society or abandon the truth. We did not hesitate. But I need
not tell you of the pang it cost us, to seperate from old friends, and to go forth
from an institution, over whose infancy we had rejoiced, with something
like paternal joy, and to whose growth and prosperity, we had given, with¬
out stint, our means, our labors, and our prayers. For this Society, now
so decidedly arrayed against our object, and that in part by men who
would have strangled it in its birth, we have toiled and suffered, as well
as written and spoken. We have endured reproach and calumny—braved
the perils of the ocean in winter—suffered shipwreck—traveled thouands
of miles on either continent, exposed to the winter’s snows and the sum¬
mer’s heat in its service. It has been the theme of our most earnest advo¬
cacy, the object of our most fervent prayers, and we have cherished many
aident hopes of what it might accomplish for the glory of God and the
good of man. And you must not think that men, old men, upon whose path
the lengthening shadows of declining years are falling, would rashly relin¬
quish the labor, love and hope of brighter days. But we had no choice, for
we must render an account of our stewardship to the God of the Bible: nor
should we now complain, for we can already see light out of that darkness.
I do nbt know what may have been the views of some of the supporters
of the American and Foreign Bible Society regarding the revision of the
English Scriptures. For my own part, from the first, my principles in this
respect were decided, and my advocacy of them was undisguised. Under
a sense of duty, after mature reflection, not unaccompanied with prayer to
Him who can alone guide our steps aright, I resigned the pastoral charge of
a church to which I had preached for thirty-two years, for the purpose of
visiting the churches on behalf of that Society. Wherever I went, I nro-
claimed as the motto of the Society, “The Bible faithfully translated for all
nations,’’ and uniformly explained that our design embraced the English
language. In London, in 1840, I used this language in an address
which was published at the time: “I cordially approve of sending aid to
our Missionaries abroad, but shall we give the whole truth to the nations
of the East, and be contented that a part of it should be given to our home
population.” Such language I used as the agent and representative of the
American and Foreign Bible Society. My course was never censured.—
My sentiments were never repudiated. On the other hand, I know that
hundreds, I may say thousands of dollars, have been subscribed to the
funds of the Society on such considerations.
I crave your indulgence, Mr. President, in dwelling at such length upon
matters that may seem out of order, if not out of place, in this convention;
but justice to myself, and still more, justice to honored friends who are ab¬
sent, and justice to our Union, stem to demand some public statement of
the circumstances which led to its formation. Though these circumstances
in nowise affect your duty, I doubt not the statement may be found useful
in the prosecution of your object. For it is probable that any opposition
you may encounter, will be grounded more upon a partial or distorted view
of such circumstances, than upon any solid objections to your object itself.
j Revision as intended by the Bible Union.
I have shown you that the principle of our Union is the same as that
vowed originally in the American and Foreign Bible Society. That So¬
ciety was called into existence by the necessities of the Foreign field, from
which aid, through accustomed channels, had been unexpectedly and un¬
justly withheld. Its first efforts in behalf of “the Bible translated” were
consequently confined to Foreign languages. The principle of this Union,
is the same—the Bible translated into all the languages, but the direction
of our first efforts is modified by the circumstances which have called it into
existence. Those circumstances point us more particularly to the remedy
of the acknowledged defects of the commonly received English Version.
Is this version defective ? Can its defects be remedied ? Is it our duty to
seek the application of a remedy ? Your answer to these questions must
be the basis of your present action and of any organization for future
We have affirmed that the English Version is defective. But when we
speak of its defects, it must not be thought that we are insensible to its
We claim that none of the opponents of revision exceed us in an appre¬
ciation of its merits. The simple and severe beauty of its nervous language,
its tine harmony of tone and manner, its general fidelity to the great truths
which God has given by inspiration for doctrine, reproof, correction and
instruction in righteousness, to make the man of God perfect, thoroughly
fitted to every good work—all this we admire and love. I learned to love
the language of that Bible from the lips of my mother. My ears were at-
tuned io its melody, in the solemn tones of holy men who instructed my
youth. It is eixk-ared to me as the vehicle of the gdad tidings of redeem¬
ing- love which brought peace to my heart, as well as of the holy light
which discovered to mb my sin and danger. It sounds to me like the fa-
millhr voice of the bosom friend of a long life. It has brought consolation
to me in my sorrow. It has been my meditation all the day, and nay song
in the watches of the night. When I have been consulted by the awakened
sinner, I have found there the words which pointed him to the Lamb of
God. When I have encountered the bitter enemies of our faith. I have
found there the weapons by which I have put them to flight. When I have
gone after the wandering sheep of my flock, I have found there the tender
■expostulations by which I have, won them back to the shepherd and Jrishop
of our souls. In my study, in my family, in the. circle of my chosen
friends, in the pulpit, in the solemn silence of the house of mourning, by
the bedside of expiring saints, it has been constantly with me for more
than half a century. I cannot but love the Bible, the old English Bible.
I have not learned to love its blemishes; but I have learned.to love it so,
that I cannot willingly endure that anything should remain which mars
its beauty or worth, and especially, when I have thought that the truth
which its defects conceal, pervert, or obscure, is God's truth, and that the
defects themselves are mans work, I cannot hesitate as to, which demands
my reverential love.
Is the received version defective?
That it has defects many and'momentous, is no recent discovery. Scarce¬
ly had it been received, when these defects began to be pointed out and
acknowledged, nor is it any reflection .upon the competency of the transla¬
tors to say so. The control under which they executed their task did not
permit them to make it perfect up to the measure of their knowledge and
conviction. When they suggested new and varying translations, they were
reminded, that “such was not (he object of those who had brought them
together.” The instructions under which they acted, virtually enjoined
them to make an imperfect version. Their competency for the work is not
a question which I here discuss. Their scholarship, if they possessed it,
they were not allowed to use. They were tied down to previous translations
which they were to alter as little as possible. And even where they made
alterations, they were often guided by defective Latin Versions, rather than
the original text. But without entering upon discussions that do not belong
to this place, regarding the scholarship of the translators and the means
and - apparatus within their reach, or the use they made of either, it is
enough to say that from the time when it was published, to the present
hour, there is a constant chain of proof of their inaccuracy. Without
mentioning the precision of new translations which the defects of the
present have called forth, you cannot open a commentary or an expositor
without finding" on almost every page, the proof that a full and correct
knowledge of the Scriptures is not to be obtained from this version.—
Every minister of the gospel knows that he cannot with comfort or safety
expound the Scriptures or apply a text without consulting the original. I
have in the course of my ministrations expounded every book of the New
Testament and many of the Old to my people, but I never ventured to pre¬
pare for the pulpit without having before me the Hebrew of the Old Tes¬
tament or the Greek of the Hew Testament. »
But it is not only those who are called to a more exact and critical study
of the word of God who become sensible of these defects; every reader of
the Bible knows how much his understanding of it is hindered by obsolete
and unintelligible words, and by antiquated and unfamiliar modes of expres¬
sion. Every pious father has been pained to find, that from the use of
expressions which, doubtless, were not offensive to a less refined- age, he
cannot read some passages in his family without wounding feminine deli¬
cacy. Every reader, however, is not aware to what an extent the difficul¬
ties which he strives to surmount and the seeming Inconsistencies which he
vainly strives to reconcile, belong to the translation and not to the text.
One of my earliest recollections of the Bible inquiry, is of my boyish won¬
der and perplexity at finding in the book of Revelations an account of four
beasts joined with twenty-four elders, in praising God and the Lamb. I
asked my mother if there were beasts in heaven, and how beasts could
speak and sing. She told me that many things in that book were sym¬
bolical, and I was silenced but not satisfied. Some years afterwards, I
heard a Presbyterian minister preach from the passage, who remarked,
with more point than eloquence, that “it is a beastly translation,” and ex¬
plained that it meant “living creatures.”
I will not detain you with multiplied instances of inaccuracy in the ver¬
sion. I have, on former occasions, pointed out the more important, and
doubtless many will be furnished by those who shall follow me. It is
enough to say, that both in this country and in Great Britain, competent
scholars of every denomination, and of no denomination, have shown its
defects to be numberless, and no scholar has had the hardihood to affirm
to the contrary.
Candor must at the same time compel the admission, that multitudes of
these defects are comparatively trivial. Of the 26,000 errors enumerated
by one critic, and the 24,000 errors, said to have been corrected in a new
edition by the American Bible Society, a vast number are typographical
blunders in punctuation, orthograpy and syntax. But no man with a
proper reverence for the word of God, and a proper sense of the precious¬
ness of truth, will tolerate, in the Bible, errors, which in any other hook
might be regarded as trivial. The flaw which would be overlooked in an
ordinary household utensil, would be regarded seriously in a costly vessel.
No good excuse can be offered for neglecting to purge the version of every'
imperfection. But jjp error is trivial which affects in any degree divine-
A letter, or a comma, misplaced,. may involve the sacred writers in a
palpable blunder, and lead the reader into dangerous mistakes.. There
are also many errors of a much more- flagrant character. Translators
have furnished the quiver of infidelity with some of its keenest arrows.
They lay stumbling blocks in the way of the weak—mislead honest inqui¬
rers after truth, and sometimes furnish heresy with its most effective argu¬
ments. If the defect is nothing more than the transferance of a word
without translation, it is impossible to calculate the mischief that may fol¬
low. Our translators were forbidden to translate the ecclesiastical terms,
as they were called. Now the religious sects, both of Great Britain and
America, are divided on questions affected by these terms. And it is im¬
possible to say how far these divisions are influenced by the concealment
of the meaning of these words.
If the passage, referring to the relations of pastors and churches had
been fully and fairly rendered, Episcopacy and Presbytery might by this
time have disappeared, and many abuses of our congregational system
might never have existed. The whole aspect of Christendom would have
been very different from rvhat it is to-day, had King James permitted bap-
tizo to be translated into English. Dr. Babcock, the Secretary of the
American and Foreign Bible Society, has remarked with great propriety,
“The collossal form of religious perversion and despotism, the pontifical
power of the Roman church, grew up gradually and from small begin¬
nings. The first wrong step may have been regarded as insignificant—
certainly not more alarming than forbidding to translate a few words into the
language of the people.
Can the defects be remedied?
You must now regard it a momentous as well as an interesting ques¬
tion: “Can the defects of the received version be remedied?” In an¬
swering this question, I might contrast the relative advantages of scholars
then and now, in addressing themselves to such a work. The earnest study
of the languages and literature of the Sacred Scriptures, and the sound
and learned interpretation of the Scriptures had only commenced with the
Reformation; and though the zeal and devotion of English and Continen-
tal scholars had made surprising advances in the lapse of a century—the
sciences, upon which accuracy in the text, and correctness in the transla¬
tion depend, were but in their infancy when this version was made.
Throughout the two centuries that have since rolled over the world, a
prodigious amount of learning and ability have been applied without in¬
terruption to the elucidation of the Sacred Oracles. Linguists, historians,
learned travelers, men of science, as well as theologians—commentators
and expositors in many lands have laid at the feet of this generation a rich
accumulation of aids and illustrations of the Scriptures. The last fifty
years have done wonders for the furtherance of Biblical learning. With
these advantages, though it would be saying far too much to say that the
scholarship of this age may furnish a version as much superior to the re¬
ceived, as that is to Wycliffe’s, it is not too much to say that the scholarship
of this age may accomplish a work most glorifying to God, and most
grateful to all believers who use the English tongue.
One class of errors, the typographical and grammatical, require only ex¬
actness joined to attainments, which are now in the possession of whole
classes of men. Obsolete words and antiquated modes of expression are al¬
most as much within reach of a scholarship that is now not rare. The
transferences instead of translation, enforced by royal mandates or ecclesi¬
astical decrees, are surely not beyond our reach in this land of freedom.
For the rest, it is consolatory to reflect that from the nature of the case
the detection of errors implies the ability to correct them. In many other
affairs we might be aware of the existence of errors and imperfections
only to bewail them as beyond the reach of human power or skill, but in
a translation from one language into another, an error can be detected
only by a knowledge of the correction.
I do not say that we can make a perfect translation, that would be pre¬
sumptuous; but we can certainly remedy all known defects; and doubtless
an earnest devotion to the work will discover many errors yet unobserved,
and suggest hinny improvements which have not yet been hinted. I do
not say that- we are to produce a version which is to be a standard in all
time comm ,!. One plea tor the present essay, the progress of human
leaning, points us to a per tee non beyond our own movement. The con-'
slant and certain change of a living language, which in part orignates the
pros' mi call tor revision, will speedily render many current words obsolete,
and will demand from time to time that revisions be revised. But, we
shall accomplish a great work for the future as well as for the present if
wo carry forward the world’s enterprise one,step, and if we break down
■ false impression of the inviolability of this version, the errors of which,
now sanctified by age, will, il undisturbed, be growing more sacred and
inviolable by each succeeding year. It will be the advantage of those
who succeed us, as it has been our own, that “other men labored, and we
on entered into their labors.” In reply then to the inquiry, can its de¬
fee is be remedied ? I demand, what forbids ? The mandate of the Sover¬
eign ot England ! But we have no king but Jesus. A prejudice, a su¬
perstition, a cowardly expediency ! But we will not bow the neck to so
base a yoke.
Is it our duty to seek the remedy ?
The defects being’ acknowledged, and the remedy being, within reach,
it is difficult to understand on what grounds God-fearing' men who admit
these Scriptures to be given by inspiration of God and to be the only rule
of faith and practice, can question the duty of seeking to apply the reme¬
dy. Is it out duty to do so ? We might as well ask, is it out duty to
seek the honor and glory of God, the knowledge of his' will, and the Sal¬
vation of men. Is it our duty to silence the gainsaying of the infidel, to
expose the fallacy of heresies, to remove stumbling blocks from the path
ot the feeble, and snares from the feet of the candid inquirers. - Or, is it
our duty to perpetuate error—to keep the light of God’s word under a
bushel, to circulate misrepresentations', or perversions of God’s truth, to
1 p men in the dark as to portions of God’s truth, if it be distasteful to
us or unpopular to tell it? Dr. Dowling; of New York, remarked, in
1848: “To my mind, it-appears like daring impiety to prohibit God from
saying what He chooses to the world. As weil might Moses have arrested
the hand that was writing on the tables of stone.”
No man can deliberately decide that it is better to circulate or to pos¬
sess an imperfect than a faithful version—that it is duty to keep an obscure
and defective translation in the hands of the people and. lock up the actual
truth of God in the hands of a favored class. A man may decide that
the former course will better serve -his selfish ends, or better promote the
interests of a class or a sect. But he-cannot decide that it is for. the glory
of God t,o give, as the word of God, anything that .originated with the
translator, or to fail of setting forth in a translation as fully and exactly
as possible all that God has revealed in the language of inspiration. He
cannot decide that it is for the good of men, that truth should be obscu¬
red or concealed, or that error, or uncertainty, should mar the record
which God has given us concerning his Son.
It is the duty of each of us for himself, to know the mind of the Spirit..
It is the duty of all of us to spread abroad, as widely as possible, a cor¬
rect knowledge of what God has revealed. And what is this but in other
words to say that it is our duty to have and. to give the Bible faith Lilly
translated. But this duty is enhanced by the extent to which the influ¬
ence of any translation may reach, ihe duty 10 procure anu circulate a
faithful English Version is. therefore, urgent in the extreme. Christopher
Anderson in his preface to his Annals of the English, Bible says: “The
English Bible at this moment, is ti.e only version on which the sun never
sets. We know full well, that it is in use on the banks of the Ottawa and
St. Lawrence, as well as at Sidney, Port i lulip, and liobart town; but
before his evening rays have left the spires of Quebec and Mon leal, his
morn inf beams have already shone for hours on the shores oi Australia
and Xew Zealand. And if it be reading by so many of our language in
Canada while the sun is sinking on Lake Ontario; in the eas.vrn world,
where he has risen in his glory on the banks of the Ganges, many who are
no less our countrymen, have already turned to the sell same sacred vol-
ume—yet are these but branches from our parent stock under whose shade
this version, corrected and re-corrected, has been reading by myriads for
three hundred years.”
To the myriads of the present, add the myriads of the future, who shall,
with the rapid extension of our great family, receive the impress ot the
perfections or the defects of the English Version. -And to these dd, that
so long as the English language is the vernacular of those, who leau :ne van
in the march of Christian civilization, the received English Version of the
Scriptures will continue to exert a moulding influence upon every other ver¬
sion that shall be made throughout the world, then may you measure the
sublimity of the undertaking, and the urgency of duty to seek to apply the
remedy to the defects of the existing \ ersion.
The question may still be asked, is this the time when the duty shall
become imperative. What is to determine the time when such a work
shall become undertaken, but the practicability of it'? It the detects
can be remedied, now is the time—to-day rather than to-morrow. Time,
alas! has already been lost. The work itself indeed, requires time fonts
accomplishment—but our duty is pressing upon us now.
Let me add, it is our duty—your duty and mine—not indeed to do the
work, but to adopt the most judicious and efficient measures possible to se¬
cure the doing of it. If we a.re to wait till others do it—till Christendom
unites—till the rulers enjoin—the experience of the past as well as the
aspect of the present assure us that we shall wait in vain. The conduct
of* others cannot relieve us from the claims of duty. Under this convic¬
tion, the American Bible Union acts, believing, also, that it is the legiti¬
mate business of a Bible Society to procure and circulate faithful versions
in every language within the circle of its operations.
The American Bible Union, as you will perceive by the statement I
have read, is not an association of translators or revisors. But it has
adopted a plan, which includes the employment of the best Pedo Baptist,
as well as Baptist scholarship, both here and in Europe, with a view to
give the ordinary reader, as nearly as possible, the exact meaning of the
inspired original, while, so far as compatible with this design, the general
style and phraseology of the commonly received version are retained.—
The judicious arrangement of details, and the correctness of regula¬
tion under this general plan, command universal confidence and approval.
Considerable progress has alread}’- been made towards bringing it into suc¬
cessful operation. The purpose and plan will meet with your sympathy
and concurrence. On our part, we will welcome you as fellow-laborers
in a great enterprize. It remains that individually we give our hearts to
the work, and strengthen each others hands and encourage each others
hearts. I have only to exhort you to put your hands and hearts to it with
your chararcteristic zeal and devotion. The cause is worthy of your high¬
est enthusiasm. You seek a great blessing for yourselves, your children,
your country, the world, and above all for the Church of Christ.
I see before me in this company, gathered from so wide a region, many
familiar faces. I believe also that I know many of your hearts, and you
are already ardent friends of this cause.
I cannot hope, in the ordinary course of nature, to enjoy many such
opportunities of meeting those I love, and pleading this cause. But I
leave it safe in your attachment, above all safe in the hands of God. And
may the very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your
whole spirit and soul, and body may be preserved blameless unto the
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Note, — For any want of correctness iii date, names, Ac., the reporter must he held re¬
sponsible, not the speaker. A number of illustrations of the defectiveness of the present
translation are, with, the consent of Dr. Maclay, omitted to avoid unnecessary repetition in
the addresses of subsequent speakers. Reporter.
ADDRESS, BY A. CAMPBELL.
“God said, Let there be light, and light was. ”—Gen. i. 3,
Men, Brethren, and Fathers!
This was the first speech ever made within our universe. It is,
indeed, the most sublime and potent speech ever made. It is, however,
but the expression of an intelligent omnipotent volition. It was pregnant
with all the elements of material creation. It was a beautiful portraiture
ol its Author, prospective of all the developments of Creation, Providence,
and Redemption. It was a Bible in minature, and future glory in embryo.
We, therefore, place it as the motto of an address upon the greatest ques¬
tion and work of our age — Shall uie have the light of life as God created it?
All was chaos before God uttered this oracle. All was order, beauty,
and life, when lie ended this discourse. Creation was but a sermon — a
speech. Its exordium was light, and its peroration was man. Redemp¬
tion, too, was in perspective, shown in the first ut'erance that broke the
silence of eternity. Hence its author is called “the word of God” —
•‘the light and the life of man.’' Hence, too, in its first enunciation, we
are carried back to this primordial oracle. “In the beginning was the
word, and the icord was with God, and the word was God . The same was
in the beo'innino- with God. Al! things were created by him, and without
him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life
was the light of men.” True, “ibis light” yet “shines in darkness, and
the darkness comprehended! it not.” Under the same Divine imagery,
at the end of the volume, he is called “The Alpha and the Omega, the
Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” “All things were crea¬
ted bv him, and for him ; and he is before all things, and by him all
things subsist.” The “word became incarnate and dwelt” amongst men,
and men “beheld his glory”—the Divine image of the invisible Jehovah
— “ the glory of an only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The volume emphatically called the Bible, spans the arch of time. In
its commencement it rests upon an eternity, to us past, and in its termina¬
tion upon an eternity, to us future. But God himself, in Hebrew, is called
“ The Eternities of Israel,” and time is but a continued creation of the
spiritual tenantry of the Eternities of Israel, commencing in the first and
terminating in the last. This heaven descended volume is, therefore, the
chart of the interval that lies between the heaven that is past, and the
heaven that is to come. It delineates the path of life, and, in harmony
with “ the divinity that stirs within us,” it points out an hereafter, and in¬
timates an eternity to man. How important, then, that we have it in our
own language, as they had that first received it from the hand of God 1
As the golden Cherubim that overshadowed the Propitiatory, while guard¬
ing the written word of God with one eye directed to the throne of glory,
and with one immovably fixed on the printed tablets of the Divine con¬
stitution, so ought we to guard the sacred Oracles committed to the Church
of Christ, and preserve them in their primeval purity and integrity.
In full conviction and assurance of these preliminary statements, and of
the eternal truth and value of the Divine Oracles, and of the obligations
therein contained and resting upon the Church of Christ, to translate them
into all languages, and to give them to the human race, I would very re¬
spectfully submit to your consideration and adoption the following res¬
Resolved, That it is a paramount dutt of the Christian Church
OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURT, TO GIVE TO THE PRESENT AGE, IN OUR OWN VER¬
NACULAR, A PERSPICUOUS, EXACT, AND FAITHFUL VERSION OF THE LlVING Or-
acles of God, as we find them in the Hebrew and Greek originals
of inspired Prophets, Apostles, and Evangelists.
In submitting to your consideration and adoption this resolution, it is as¬
sumed that we have not now extant, in our own language, publicly accred¬
ited, such a version as that proposed in the resolution which I have at
present the honor to submit to your most grave and solemn consideration.
And is not this a generally, nay, a universally conceded fact, throughout
the length and breadth of Protestant Christendom? Is there a single
sect, party, or denomination, known to history or to any one of us, that in
its aggregate, or even in a respectable minority of its most intelligent com¬
munion, is fully satisfied that it has in its possession such a translation of
either the Jewish or Christian Scriptures? Nay, is there a learned Rabbi,
Doctor, or Minister of any denomination, that can or would, ex animo, af¬
firm the conviction, that we have such a version in public use? If any
one doubt it, let him assume the task—the Herculean task—of examinin'*
the popular commentaries and versions from that of Luther, Beza, Eras"
mus, or that 01 Rheims, A. I). 1582, down to Dr. Boothroyd, 1836, na¬
tron ized, or occasionally used by our religious denominations, Romanists
and Protestants; and if be does not find objections to, and emendations
oi, each and every one of them, proposed by hundreds and by thousands,
1 will concede the position assumed.
Dr. George Campbell suggests some four hundred and fifty emenda-
jons.^in the single testimony or gospel of the Apostle Matthew ; and Dr.
.Mac&night nearly as many, in his translation of two of Paul’s Epistles—
V1Z : t0 th . e Romans and that to the Hebrews. And what shall we
soy of Drs. Whitby Benson, Doddridge, D’Oyly, and Mant, Gill, Pierce,
H.omas S.mtt, Taylor, of Norwich, Philosopher Locke, Dr. Boothroyd,
1 rofessor M. Cluart, and Secretary Thompson ? From all these, and oth-
ers beside, we have imported from Pater Raster Row, London, the Holy
Bible with its twenty thousand emendations! In the United States, these,
and many others not named, are found, not only in our public libraries’
Init in many of our private libraries. Indeed, these all stand on my own
shelves, with several others not named, of equal value and importance
Jn tins country, we are happy to find no by-law established version of
O.a testament or New. We voluntarily use that introduced by Kino-
James, merely because it was in fashion, and by law of Protestant Britain
appointed to he read in all the churches of its establishment.' We have,
indeed been favored with one volume from the British press, called the
English Hexapla, exhibiting six important versions of the New Testament
ocnptures viz : that of Wickhffe, of A. D. 1380; Tindal’s, of 1534;
Granmer’s, falsely so called, of 1539; the Geneva, of 1557; the Rheims’
or the English College of Rheims, 1582; and that of James, of 1611.
Ihese, with one exception, were made within 77 years — the lifetime of
We have also the Polyglott Biblia Sacra, containing the Greek and He¬
ine w originals, with the Latin Vulgate, German, English, French, Spanish
and Italian versions, under the supervision of Dr. Samuel Lee. Professor
of the Hebrew Language at Cambridge, England, Doctor of Divinity, and
honorary member oi all the great literary societies in Britain and on the
Continent of Europe. This is the greatest and best offering of the press
ot the 19th century — indeed, of any century since the first of the Chris¬
tian age. V r e are, therefore, better furnished with the aids and materials
tor an improved and correct version, than at any former period in the his¬
tory of Christianity.
If, in the judgment of Paul, the greatest honor and advantage be¬
stowed upon the Jews, was that “ to them were committed the Oracles of
0 < I> j us ^’ as l 16 spoke them, is not our g-reatest privilege and honor to
ave the Oracles of God, just as he spoke them, committed to us, not only
foi ourselves, but for our children, and our contemporaries in allt he earth?
The Jews’ religion possessed no proselyting spirit or precept. “ He
showed his statutes unto Jacob, and his testimonies to Israel : he has not
dealt so with any other nation ; and as for his judgments, they have not
ine Jews sent no missionaries abroad. There was no missionary spirit
infused into their religion. There was no commission given to the Patri¬
archs or the Jews ; none to Judah or to Levi, “ to go into all the woild,
and preach and teach to other nations the statutes and the judgments, the
precepts and the promises, that God gave to them.
They needed no translators, nor verbal expositors for themselves. Then-
dispensation was circumscribed by the flesh, and the language of Abra¬
ham had no spirit of extension in it; and therefore, Levi was commis¬
sioned “ to teach Jacob Goi’s judgments ; to make Israel know his laws,,
to place incense before God, and whole burnt offerings upon his altai.
Beyond this they had no obligation or mission. _
But God has been to us much more gracious than to Israel, according to
the flesh. He has given to us a better constitution of grace a better
covenant, established on better promises. He has called us to a nobler
work, and given to us a larger mission. He has committed to us the
Christian Oracles, with authority to announce them to the whole human race.
But they have come to us ,in a translation, and in an imperfect transla¬
tion, by no means equal, in clearness and force, to the original. lie has,
however, also given to us the originals ; but only a few can lead them,
and, of that few, all read them alter having been taught the vernacular
Scriptures. They read the originals through the spectacles of their \ei-
nacular versions ; and, superadded to this, through the spectacles < f a
ready made theology, imparted to them by an early education and high
authority — parental, or ministerial, or both. It has become part and par¬
cel of their individuality. Few can ever divest themselves of it. It is
harder, far, to unlearn than to learn; to divest ourselves of old errors, than to
acquire new truths. Still it is our duty, as it is our safety and oui honor,
to take the Living Oracles, and, with an unveiled face, an unblenching
eye, and an honest heart, to learn and study what God has spoken to
To the Christian Church are committed the Oracles of Christ, as to the
Jewish Church were formerly committed the Oracles of God. I he origi¬
nal Scriptures were given in solemn charge to the Jewish people, that noth¬
ing, was to be added to them or subtracted irom them. They were to pie-
serve and teach th m to their children through all generations.
A similar ordinance in the New Testament, with the most solemn sanc¬
tions, gives to the Christian Church the keeping of the Christian Scrip¬
tures. If any one add to them, God will inflict upon him all the maledic¬
tions found in the Holy Volume. It any one subtract from them, God
will take away from him all the Christian birth rights promised in them,
and consign him to perdition.
But they were committed to both people in their own native language,
directly from those persons to whom God had given them in charge.
Were they, then, to translate them into other languages? This question,
though not propounded in the very words of the book, and consequently
not formally answered, is, nevertheless, clearly intimated, and most satis¬
factorily disposed of in ihe Christian Scriptures, To its consideration and
disposal we are now, in the providence of God, especially called; and it is
our special duty, on the present occasion, to investigate the subject, and to
ascertain our duties and privileges on all the premises exhibited in the
On such questions and occasions as the present, it is essential to success
that we entertain and cherish clear, enlarged, and lofty conceptions of the
whole subject and object of Divine revelation, and that we duly appreci¬
ate the times and the circumstances in the midst of which our lor has been
The Bible, in its vast and glorious amplitude and object, is the Book of
Life — the charter of immortality to man. It is, in its manifold develop¬
ments and details, most worthy of God to be both the author and the sub¬
ject of it, and of man to be both its theme and its object, in the awful
grandeur of his origin, relations and destiny. Every thing superlatively
interesting to man, with respect to the past, the present, and the future of
his being, and of his well-being, constitutes the all-engrossing theme and
intention of the volume. It follows, therefore, that its faithful preserva¬
tion and transmission from age to age, and from nation to nation, is, and
ought to be, the paramount duty and concern of every one who believes
its Divine authenticity and realizes its transcendent value. We shall,
therefore, endeavor to ascertain our immediate duty with regard to an im¬
proved translation of it in our own language and country, at the present
To this end, it is also essential that we appreciate and comprehend the
character and the spirit of our own age, and the actual condition of the
Christian profession in our own country, and, indeed, in our own language,
wherever spoken, at home or abroad. It is almost as difficult to appre¬
ciate our own times—the spirit and the progress of our own age — as it is
to see ourselves, either as others see us, or as we really are.
And what is the actual condition of the present church militant? I
mean of the whole Christian profession — not within the Popedom nor
in the Patriarehdom — but in European and American Protestandom Is
it not emphatically in n politico-heretico belligerent state? There is, in¬
deed, much said in praise of a catholic spirit, and much said against a nar¬
row, contracted, sectarian, bigoted spirit. But alas! how many praise the
life which they never dare to lead. If all who praise truth, virtue, tem¬
perance, charity, practised these virtues, what a happy world — what a
triumphant church w r e should have ! Too much credit, as well as two
much credulity, has ruined many a man. It has, alas! too often bank¬
rupted and ruined church and State.
There cannot be an honest league between truth and error. A smiling
r o o
race over a frowning heart, is an abomination to earth and heaven. True
charity “rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.” There can
be no compromise between God’s truth and man’s error. “Let God be
true,” as Paul said, “though it should make every man a Iiar”no matter
on whom the falsehood lies. We never can heal the wounds of sectarian¬
ism but by the healing unction of heaven-descended truth. But the truth
must ever be spoken in its own spirit, which is the spirit of love and of a
But what the bearings of these aphorisms upon the subject of a faithful
translation of the Christian Scriptures? Much, very much, as we hope
the sequel may show. We desire — 1 mean the true Church of Christ de¬
sires — to know the whole truth — the mind and will of God.
An apostate church never did, never can, never will, desire such a ver-
sion. The most apostate church on earth often prays in Latin, and glo¬
ries in a Roman service. I would to God that she sinned only in Latin !
But she glories in the Roman tongue, and in the Roman city, because of her
Roman spirit, her Roman head, and her Roman hierarchy. Like the Ro¬
man Caesar, she has her pontif 'ex Maximus , her Imperator Universus, and
her Jupiter Tonans.
That all men who love truth, and especially Bible truth, desire to come
to the light, or to have the light brought to them, is as clearly an histori¬
cal, as it is a philosophical tact. It is well established in the history of
translations. Were I dogmatically to assert that truth and light are cog¬
nate, I would stake my reputation on the fact, that every lover of truth
loves light. The Saviour himself suggests to us this idea, in saying, “He
that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest
that they are wrought in God.” Error or falsehood, and darkness, are
also akin. They are of cognate pedigree. Hence said the great Teacher,
“He that does evil hates the light;” and men whose deeds are evil “ come
not'to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved,” or made manifest.
But I have said that this is a historical fact, and amply demonstrated
and sustained by a reference to the history of Bible translations. From
the era of Protestantism till now, Protestants, in the ratio of their Protes¬
tant sincerity, or true Protestantism, have been active, zealous, and for¬
ward in the great work of translating the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures
into the vulgar tongues.
The Roman Church has been equally distinguished for her opposition to
popular versions, or to translations made in the language of the common
people. So have those Protestants that have borrowed freely from Papal
Rome. If Protestant Reformers have been well sustained in alleging that
there is but a paper wall between certain Protestant denominations and
the Papal institutions, then are we sustained in affirming, that those most
opposed to popular versions are more akin to the Popedom than those who
advocate them. Iu proof of these views and facts, I appeal to the history
of all the versions into the English language, from the Reformation down
to the present time.
I will not limit my proofs to the English language. I will challenge an
investigation of the facts of history from the dark ages of Papal absolu¬
tism down to the present day. Of course we begin with Luther and the
era of Protestantism, A. D. 1534. His version, printed A. D. 1530, made
directly from the Hebrew and Greek, gave rise to ten other Protestant ver¬
sions, viz : the Lower Saxon, in 1553; the Pomeranian, in 1588 ; the
Danish, in 1550 ; the Icelandic, in 1584 ; the Swedish, in 1541 ; and the
Dutch in 1560 ; the Finnish, in 1644; the Livonian, in 1689, (sometimes
called the Lettish version ;) the Sorabic or Wendish, in 1728 ; and the
Lithuanian, in 1735. During the period in which these eleven Protestant
versions appeared, the Romanists, to quiet their population, were obliged
to issue three versions, not one of which was made from the original
tongues. They were mere translations of the Vulgate, and not of theHe-
brew or Greek originals. The German laity of the Roman community
read them with considerable avidity, “ notwithstanding the fulminations
of the Papal See against them.”
From Germany and the Continent, we pass over the channel into the
British Isles. A few partial versions into the Saxon Wuao-e were marie
before the first English version, which appeared in 1290* Of course none
ot these were printed.
^ leklitte’s from the Vulgate, appeared in 1380. But in 1408, the
Archbishop Arundc m a convocation held at Oxford, decreed “that no
? n ° thereafter S10u] d translate any text of Holy Scripture inlo Emdhh
rt v. ay of a book or tract; and that no book of this kind should be°read
corn posed m the time of Wickliffe, or since his death.” Some
howevei, read, and were put to death. ,
1 1 50 rS rt n Tinda1 ’ a J out this time, fled to Antwerp, in Flanders, and
oriJ-fn~al P S d i 18 r "- 8 7™°* ° f tht New Testament, from the Greek
o - ° i , S p ed T ns ° f i 1 were « in a few years, printed and scattered
]a[1 j UlL contment ’ anJ not a few of .Item found their way even into Eng-
nnd U «iunprvkfn 1,0 /p' P ' n edltl °? 7 Tindal’s version, under the direction
.nd ,.,p .,r IS,on oi l,,s convert. John Rogers, printed abroad, was intro-
...VIrr r?i a l ; n i j537, aud that ’ t00 ’ with the conse nt of King Hen-
7] 1 fm d tbat of n,s vicegerent, Cromwell, and that, too, of his'Arch-
jl , P ’ - b°mas Cranm-r—all of whom had, a short time before, most vi-
i , n ' opposed it. The history of this change is toalong to tell; but it
has never ceased to be a wonder to all that know it, and to be regarded as
a very singular and special Providence. °
**rt ed / V r hlin f ive land fourteen years before, and finally mur-
? " V„ ! : V f h “ transl f Ll0n ’ b y royal authority, that same version is
0 p . j ^ j ^ p, , 1 i i' J "‘ n ° and ’ under tbe au spices of the Crown and the mitre
Grafton, who had published the first edition of Tindal’s Bible
npuitec. mto England, sets about another edition in Paris , and to correct
VTTp P V S "T 1 r Un C ? verda] e> under the protection, too, of Henry
, ; ut an oroer from the Inquisition, dated December 17, 1538 un-
Hnn nf e rt USp, v® S ° f ? Le ^ and lhe French Kin g Francis, seizes a por-
u °f the edition, almost out of the press, which compelled the publisher
to flee to England, where under the protection of Henry VIII, it was com-
i L " ' S - Ued * n A 4pn1 ’ 1539 ‘ Next y ear (1540) another edition, un-
!. auspices or Cranmer, was issued from the English press. Thus
tue first English version of Tindal’s Bible was wholly imported into Eng-
p nd m 1 : 53 J-.-; 1 ^cond redeemed from the Inquisition, mostly printed in
, ans and fan,shea m London, in 1539, succeeded it. The third edition
was, wholly printed in England; and after this, the editions of 1540 and
o4! were issued under the auspices of Cranmer himself. From that
time.England became the land of Bibles.
History is philosophy teaching by example. And here we must date
Pnwi aU Qi of England’s glory amongst the nations of the
i j 1 ' f ,° Al * be nations or Europe, thus becomes emphatically the
le nd or moles and or Freedom. So true it is, that where the Spirit of
tne Lord is there is liberty, and where the Bible, in the Vernacular of any
! ';° p e ’ ls ™uch read and much pondered upon, there the Spirit of the Lord
fl^,', Vi' a niIpb influence.. “V here no vision is the people perish,” and
7 , K ca 'V P le y °f aspiring demagogues and haughty pontiffs.
iom a caietul review of the history of new versions, in all past time,
we fire compelled to the conclusion, that their authors, friends and advo-
cates, have 1 ’Cnernl 1 y been the lovers of truth and ot the God ot tiiL.h ,
whereas, their opponents have as uniformly been mere temporizers, carnal,
and secular—lovers of place, of person, and of office, mo tv than lovers of
God. I have said generally, but was about to say universally. In this
view I am sustained by'the judgment and the practice of those we now
call orthodox. What are generally now' called orthodox versions, were,
without an exception known to me, got up in dispite of more popular, more
wordly, and more secular establishments. This is a very instructive fact.
We may, indeed, concede that some vain, secular errorist, or demagogue,
may have, from sinister motives, attempted to carry some favored dogma,
by "an effort at a new version of some passage or book, or even of the
whole volume ; but how soon have these fallen stillborn from the pen or
the press, and vanished from the world 1 This or some such concession,
is essential to a general law ; otherwise we might be in danger of affirming
it universal, and thereby endanger the cause of truth.
I am glad, however, to assert with strong emphasis, that I have the con-
cessions^of all our would-be recognised orthodox partizan cotemporaries,
in favor of my position. They have recently become unusually eloquent
in their laudations of the present approved version of King James. I
wonder if they have read the whole history of that version! Some seem
to think that King James himself, or his government, or his bishops, have
made it oui and out. So far from this, it fought its way, every inch, from
the head, and heart, and conscience of Wickliffe, Tihdal, Luther, Beza,
Frythe, Barnes, Poyntz, and even Erasmus, the., &c>, and scores of co-op¬
erants in contributions of learning, books, money, protection, and piajer,
before it attracted the smiles and approval of bishops, courtiers an t prin¬
ces. Printers, paper manufacturers, and book-binders, are as much enti¬
tled to our thanks for King James’ version, as many of those worshipful
persons who are said and believed, “by the grace ot God, to have given
to us our English Bible. Instruments they were, willing or unwilling, mer¬
itorious or unmeritorious, in this great work. But it originated not with,
and proceeded not from them. It teas individual piety, learning, zeal, en¬
terprise, that gave to v.s our present English Bible. I here is scarcely
amongst us a living man, who can tell how this sacred volume this King
James’ Bible, revised and re-revised—has ^ come down to us. I he best
read living man on this subject, Christopher Anderson, ot Edinburgh, in
his two octavos on the English Bible, has not told, because he could not
tell, the whole story. And yet his history of it is, by far, the best ever
printed. He was conscientiously constrained to affirm the melancholy fact,
“That -a mighty phalanx of talent, policy and power, has been firmly ar¬
rayed against the introduction of Divine truth in our native tongue.
Vol. 1. p. 7.
There are now one hundred and fifty versions of the Bible extant in the
livino- tongues of earth, and yet, strange and wonderful to relate, more co¬
pies Tn the English language are called for than in the languages of all
other nations put together ! This is the glory, the chief glory of England.
She has colonized America, Africa, Asia. Lew Holland, New Zeland, and
the bosom of the Pacific. While I speak these words, the English Bible
is being read from the rising to the setting sun. “Sot one hour of the
twenty-four, not one round of the minute-hand of the dial, is allowed to
pass, in which, on some portion of the surface of the globe, the air is not
filled with accents that are ours. Every English Christian, in this one grand
fact, may rejoice that his Bible, at this moment, is the only version in ex¬
istence on which the sun never sets.”
This caps the climax of English glory. Her English version is every
moment being read from the banks of the Thames to the banks of the Ot-
towa and the St. Lawrence, and thence to the banks of the Ganges, to Sid¬
ney, Port Philip, and liobarttown. It girdles the whole earth, and is des¬
tined to be the enduring bond of its nations. How important then that
the English Bible should be a pure, perspicuous, precise, and faithful ex¬
pression of every idea, of every precept, of every promise, of every insti¬
tution of the inspired originals! It is inevitable from the signs of the
times, from the openings of Divine Providence—to say nothing of the
prophecies fulfilled, fulfilling, and yet to be fulfilled—that an English Pro¬
testant Bible is to mould, form, and, more or less, to characterize all the
hew versions in all the missionary fields on the already tenanted earth.
This is far more probable than some of the events that have actually oc¬
curred in the present day; incomparably more probable than that an im¬
proved version of the New Testament, got up and published by your hum¬
ble speaker, should, in the short period of twenty-five years, have passed
through six editions, and be now read by persons residing in Asia, Africa,
Europe and America. This is the Lord’s doing, and wondrous in our
The language of a people is not only an index of their intellectual cali-
bre, but also an exponent of their moral and political power amongst their
contemporaries. It is, indeed, the vehicle of all their attainments of those
arts and rciences which have given them a standing and an influence
amongst their contemporaries at home and abroad, and an elevation in the
•scale of civilization. Judging from this acknowledged fact, it must he ad¬
mitted, that as the English people stand at the top of the ladder of mo¬
dem civilization, their mind, their language, and their religion, must have a
paramount influence upon all the nations and people of the globe. Need I ask.
then, at this stand-point in the centre of this immense horizon, who can com¬
pute the influence of our best efforts to exhibit the true sense and meaning
of the Hebrew and Greek oracles of God, in that pervading and continu¬
ally extending language to which God, in his providence and moral, gov¬
ernment, has already vouchsafed such a preponderating influence in the
But it may be asked, What can the “Bible Union ” accomplish in this
work? So ask our contemporary Baptist and Pedobaptist brethren. How¬
ever uncongenial to their taste or to our own, I cannot but associate their
attitude, and port, and bearing, with those of the too orthodox Jews, in
the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, which, together, give us the history of
one century of their nation. In those days they had no Priest, with
Urim and Thummim.” We have one who has passed into the heavens
and who has the “ Urim and the Thummim ” in their Divine potency.
They had also with them, only Zerubbabel and Joshua, as commanders-in-
chief. And we have the Lord of Hosts. The adversaries of Judah and
Benjamin proposed to co-operate with them in rebuilding the temple and
in restoring the ancient order of things. But the paternal chiefs, along
with Joshua and Zerubbabel, refused their proffered aid. The conse¬
quence was, they became the enemies of Israel and their cause. So the
work was abandoned for some sixteen years, till the second year of Darius,
King of Persia.
The Prophets Haggai and Zachariah, were then sent to encourage and
aid this remnant of Israel. Darius, on searching the records of the gov¬
ernment, gave a decree in their favor, and they went to work. Every
thing then went on prosperously, and the house of the Lord was finished.
But the walls and palaces of Jerusalem were still in ruins.
Nekemiah obtains a commission from Artaxerxes, and, with zeal and
courage, commences their erection and repair.
But he is opposed and resisted by Sanballai, and Tobiah, the Ammonite,
who, in mockery, said, “How feeble this band, and how weak their efforts.
Were a jackal to run against their stone 'walls, he would break them down.”
Thus were the re-builders of Jerusalem insulted and hindered in their
Nehemiah, however, and his party, went on with the work of the Lord.
Their enemies becoming still more chagrined at their success, formed new
alliances, and brought to their aid Arabians and Ashaodites, and “con¬
spired to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder the work.” But Mehemi-
ah exhorted them “to fight for their brethren, their sons, their daughters,
their wives, and their homes.” Thus they prayed, and wrought, and
fought, and conquered.
Ezra, meantime, got a copy of the Jewish oracles. He opened the book
in the sight of all the people, and the Priests and the Levites caused the
people to understand the law. “So they continued to read in the book of
the law distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the
reading Thus the Divine law and institutions were restored to Israel,
and thus were their temple and city rebuilt.
“ Now the things,” says Paul, “that happened to them, occurred to
them as types or examples, and are written for our admonition, upon whom
the end of the world, or the consummation of the Jewish age has come.”
Let us then profit from their example and sxrccess, and we will achieve all
that we desire. We will cause the people to understand the law of our
God, by the reading of his oracles.
But we have more than the encouragement of example to inspire us with
zeal and energy in this great work. Other men have labored in this fruit¬
ful field, to our unspeakable interest and honor. We have the Christian
Oracles committed to us, with an injunction to interpret —that is to trans¬
late them, with fidelity and perspicuity. The Apostles possessed not only
a commission to convert the nations, but to teach the converts to observe
and practice whatsoever the Lord commanded. To qualify them for this
work, the Lord gave them a splendid education. They had wisdom,
knowledge, and eloquence bestowed upon them. The had the immediate
inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to give them a perfect revelation. They had
the gift of foreign tongues, and the gift of interpreting them. The power
of translating their own conceptions into the languages of their auditors,
was gratuitously vouchsafed, not only to the Apostles, hut to other mem¬
bers and teachers in the churches which they planted, and which they
nourished with the pure milk of the word. It was, on two accounts, nec¬
essary for the Apostles to receive this power of knowledge and of utterance,
by immediate inspiration. The mission was extraordinary, and needed a
seal to authenticate it. The gift of tongues itself, was one of the most
useful seals of apostleship.
Time, also, was to them most precious. Their work was great. Their
lives were short, and the hand of the Lord was necessarily the pledge of
their mission to the nations of the world ; and his inspiration of ideas, and
of words to express them, was essential to the ir success.
A necessity of the same kind, but not of the same degree, still exists.
The revelations of the'Spirit are complete, but the languages in which
they were originally given became obsolete.
The Hebrew of Moses and of the Prophets, and the Greek of the Apos¬
tles, after the consummation of the revelations of God committed to them,
soon began to change, and virtually died. Still, their bodies were em¬
balmed, and the means of recognizing them were preserved and transmit¬
ted to us, by their immediate legal representatives. Indeed, the living
tongues of earth, like living men, are continually changing. Dictionaries,
like histories, transmit the past to the future. Hence, both the necessity
and the means of substituting correct words and phrases for those that
have, from the attrition and waste of time, lost their original value, be¬
come uncurrent, and passed out of use. Even Shakspeare and his con¬
temporary poets, orators and authors, now require glossaries, or the sub¬
stitution of modern terms for those which they have used, that are now
become obsolete and unintelligible. The Common Version of the Scrip¬
tures was made and completed six years before the death of the great
English poet. It, therefore, has also acquired the rust of the Elizabethian
age, although occasionally since polished by hands we know not of.
The great science of interpretation, strange to tell, like good wine, im¬
proves from age to age. Hot, indeed, the Spiritual gift of interpretation,
but the literary and acquired gift of exposition and elucidation is matured
and perfected.from the better means and better learning now possessed —
the product and growth of a revived and reviving literature.
A remarkable revival of literature preceded the Protestant Deformation.
That revival is now regarded by every philosophic historian and student—
indeed, by every reader, who thinks profoundly upon principles and their
is ndencies, who weighs the remote and proximate causes of things, or who
fathoms their legitimate and immediate tendencies—I say the revival of
literature in Italy and in Western Europe, which occurred in the four¬
teenth century, is now regarded by every informed mind as the harbinger,
or cause, of the Protestant Reformation ; and that reformation may be
regarded as the pioneer and patron of Bible translation.
No living man can realize the midnight darkness by which the Papal
See, in its appalling triumph over the Bible, human reason, and conscience,
had paralyzed and enfeebled the human understanding.
During the antagonism of two rival Popes, from A. D. 1380 to A. D.
1400, the controversy for and against translations in the vulgar tongues
was very rife. A bill for suppressing Wickliffe’s Bible was proposed to
be brought into the House of Lords. On that occasion the Duke of Lan¬
caster said that “he would maintain the having of this law—the Holy
Scriptures in our own tongue—whoever they would be that should bring
in the bill.”
Still, there was no persecution instituted against the friends of a popular
version, or to check the Wickliffites, already spreading all over England,
until the reign of the IVth Henry, when some members of Parliament
became infected with the heresy of Bible reading in an English version,
and when the Papal clergy became alarmed, lest they should introduce a
The invention of paper at the close of the 13th century, or early in the
14th, and the invention of printing soon following the revival of learning,
and the growing taste for reading an English version, gave to the subject
of translation a rapidly growing importance, which never could be annihi¬
lated—indeed, scarcely suppressed—until the seeds of a broader and
deeper reformation were widely scattered and deeply rooted in the hearts
of the people. This secretly working spirit prepared the way of Luther,
who, with a lion-hearted courage and an Herculean vigor, attacked the
basis of the Papal institution. Since which time I need not tell the story
of new versions, or of Protestant triumphs. Bible translation soon be¬
came the standing order of the day. Luther, Erasmus, Beza, Castalio,
Junius and Tremellius, Schmidt, Dathe, &c., engaged in it with great
spirit. From Luther’s version soon sprang up ten others, in other States
and languages on the Continent.
In the British Isles we find, in a few years, Wickliffe, Tindal, Miles
Coverdale. Grafton, alias Thomas Mathew, Cranmer and the Bishops, at
work. The spirit spread through Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and they
must severally hear God speak to them in their respective tongues.
Finally, King James, borne on by the spirit of the age, is engaged in
making one more acceptable to his peopie, and to issue it under all au¬
thority, nolitical and ecclesiastical.
The version was soon hailed by all the enlightened men in his dominions,
and appointed to be read in churches. It was in advance of all others at
that day, yet wanting in some respects. Hence the number of private
versions of a part, or parts, of the volume, and some of the whole New
Testament, which have, since tin t time, appeared. From the days of
King James down to the demise of Professor Stuart, of Andover, in Brit¬
ain and America the work of translation has ever since been going on.
Even Romanists themselves have been compelled, by the spirit of Pro-
testantdom and of the age, to give sundry versions in different tongues.
In the Latin tongue we have four Romanist versions of the whole Bible.
That of Paginus, that of Montanus, Chat of Malvenda and Cardinal Caje-
tan, and that of Iioubigant. The Scriptures, in Europe alone, are now
read in some fifty languages.
Thomas Hartwell Horne has borne testimony, ample and striking, in
favor of our Common Version, both from the orthodox and heterodox Pro¬
testants in Britain. Still he has the candor to admit its defects and im¬
perfections, After summoning his cloud of witnesses to attest its superior
claims, he candidly adds these words : “Notwithstanding these decisive
testimonies to the superior excellence of our authorized version, it is read¬
ily admitted that it is not immaculate, and that a complete correction of
it is an object of desire to the friends of religion, were it only to silence
the perpetually repeated cavils of the oppo^ers of Divine revelation ; who,
studiously disregarding the various satisfactory answers which have been
given to their unfounded objections, persevere in repeating them, so long
as they find a few mistranslated passages in the authorized version.” But
he did not think, some quarter of a century ago, “that sacred criticism”—
(I presume lie meant literary criticism)—“was yet so far advanced as to
furnish all the means that may be expected.” If we wait till “all the
means,” real or imaginary, that mau hereafter he expected , be actually pos¬
sessed by any individual, or assembly of individuals, the work will not be
commenced till about the end of the millennium!
Since Mr. Horne wrote these words, there have been issued in Europe
and in America at least an hundred volumes, containing alleged errors,
with their corrections. Some of these are, indeed, very minute; and while
they occasionally render the obscure more perspicuous, the defective more
complete, the indefinite more precise, the ambiguous more certain, and
the complicated more simple, we cannot say that any one of them is abso¬
lutely faultless in every particular. We are truly thankful that there is no
version so wholly defective that an honest reader, learned or unlearned,
may not understand the great scheme of salvation, and believe and obey
it to the salvation of his soul.
I have never seen any English version, Romanist or Protestant, ortho¬
dox or heterodox, however imperfect, from which a man of sense and in¬
dustry might not learn the way to heaven. Hor have I ever seen a coun¬
try, however bleak or sterile, in which an industrious, laborious, and
persevering husbandman, might not dig out of it the means of living. But
what does this prove? That there is little or no difference between
countries—between temperate or intemperate zones!
Who, having seen the fertile hills and valleys of the fairest portions of
our much favored and beloved land, would think of locating himself in
the barren heaths of Siberia, or in the sandy or slimy deserts of Lvbia?
As little he, that has a taste for the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
who desires the bread and the water of life that came down from heaven,
who thirsts after the knowledge of God and of Christ, who prays for the
full assurance of understanding the whole counsel of God, revealed in
God’s own book—I say, as little can he be satisfied with a mere glimpse
of light—with a dim, imperfect, or ambiguous version of God’s own book
of life, health, and salvation to man. Still they are severally and collec¬
tively useful, and some of them contain many valuable emendations ; but
not any one of them meets the wants of this age, or would, in the aggre¬
gate, be a proper or satisfactory substitute for the Common Version, not¬
withstanding all its obscurities and errors.
o _ t
The labors bestowed upon the original text, in ascertaining the genuine
readings of passages of doubtful interpretation, and the great advances
made in the whole science of hermeneutics—the established laws of trans¬
lation—since the commencement of the present century, fully justify the
conclusion that we are, or may be, much better furnished for the work of
interpretation, than any one, however gifted by nature and by education,
could have been, not merely fifty, but almost two hundred and fifty years
ago The living critics and translators of the present day, in Europe
and America, are like Saul amongst the people—head and shoulders above
them of the early part of the 17th century.
As for honesty, w'e ought not, perhaps, to say anything. But we may
presume to say, without the charge of arrogance or invidious comparison,
that we are not greatly inferior to them. And if in talent and education,
compared with the moderns, they were giants and we but pigmies, still,
as pigmies standing upon the shoulders of giants, we ought to see farther
than those upon whose shoulders we place ourselves. Biblical criticism
is now much more a science than it was in A. D. 1600, so soon after the
revival of literature. A far greater number of Biblical critics has suc¬
ceeded than preceded the Protestant reformation, and of a much higher
order. Before that era there was not one good Greek or Plebrew critic
for one hundred at the present day. The Papal Romans were merely
Roman scholars, and yet inferior to the Pagan Romans. These are facts
so generally known and conceded, that it is not necessary to dwell upon
them. The art of printing, with the increased number of th ological sem¬
inaries, and the competition between Romanists and Protestants, and be¬
tween the leading Protestant parties themselves, with the facilities of a
more enlarged intercourse amongst learned men, could not otherwise than
elevate the standard of Biblical scholarship, and afford greater facilities
for acquiring Biblical learning.
Corresponding with this, the vigorous impulse given to the human mind
by the rapid progress in the sciences and in the arts, merely physical and
intellectual; the great increase of new discoveries and general improve¬
ment in the social system, sustained by the facilities of the press, have all
contributed to a higher intellectual development, and a more thorough
scholarship, than were ever attained by the Greek or Roman schisms, or
by any Protestant denomination anterior to the era of the Common Ver¬
sion. Indeed, one may affirm, without the fear of successful contradiction,
that during the last hundred years, on the Continent of Europe, in Great
Britain, and in the United States of America, Biblical criticism, Biblical
learning, and Biblical translation, have advanced in every essential char¬
acteristic and accompaniment, much more in what is usually called Chris¬
tendom, than was practicable or possible anterior to that date.
A more suitable time, therefore, has never been since the era of the
Anglo-Saxon language, since the rise of the Papal defection, than the pre¬
sent, for a corrected and improved version of the Jewish and Christian
Oracles, in the living Anglo-Saxon language of the present day.
A concerted movement of all, or any of the Protestant parties, in such
an undertaking, we cannot expect. It is not in living experience, nor is
it any where inscribed on the pages of ecclesiastical history, that a plural¬
ity of denominations have ever agreed to make a common version, for
common use. Romanists and Protestants, Episcopalians and Presbyteri¬
ans, Congregationalists and Methodists, Baptists and Pedobaptists, never
have agreed, and, I presume, never will agree, to make in common a new
Indeed, the first version in our language, as also the second—which is
virtually the present commonly used version—in the main, were made by
individual enterprise and on individual responsibility. Their merit, and
the course of events, providentially gave them whatever popularity and
influence they have possessed.
King James’ version is, at most, but a correction, not, indeed, always
an amended correction, of the version of Wm. Tindal. No assembly ever
made a new version of the New Testament. Conventions have met and
read, have approbated or condemned, have amended or altered, as the
case may have been, versions made by individual men; but no convention
has yet made a new or original translation.
We have already shown, that those in power with the people uniformly
opposed new versions, until they had already, by alleged intrinsic merit,
gained an authority with the people. Those in power have always op¬
posed innovation, for the most obvious reasons in the world. They could
gain nothing earthly, in public favor, by any improvement, and might lose
much by innovations of a new version, if a correct one. And this is the
reason why both Romanists and Protestants have uniformly opposed new
None but pure, enlightened, conscientious, spiritually-minded men, could
attempt, advocate, or execute an exact, faithful', perspicuous, and intelligi¬
ble version of God’s oracles. These seldom, more probably never, have
constituted a majority in any nominally Christian communion.
Majorities, in the affairs of mammon, are worthy of all respect and con¬
fidence, because, in such matters, ihey have a single eye, a clear head,
and a sincere heart. But in Christ’s Kingdom, minorities are much more
likely to be, and most generally have been, most worthy of public confi¬
dence, ever since the almost unanimous spiritual court of Israel delivered
up the Lord Jesus Christ to be crucified. The history of mankind is full
of admonition and warning on this subject. Ever since the days of Noah,
Lot, and Abraham, majorities are not famous—rather infamous—in sacred
story. Still, we flatter ourselves, and will present the flattering unction
to the souls of our contemporaries, that we all are exceptions to a univer¬
sal rule. Si ill, I confess 1 am not without fear in this matter, while I look
narrowly into the volumes of church history. One thing is certain, we
have as yet no version of the Christian Scriptures made by a convention.
“History,” I repeat, “is but philosophy speaking by example.” If
history exemplifies any principle, it is that good men love light, and wick¬
ed men hate light, in all matters spiritual and eternal. Hence, as already
shown, every valuable effort to give, in the vernacular of any people, an
exact, faithful, and perspicuous version of God’s own book, has been con¬
fined or doomed to individual enterprise, or to that which most nearly
approaches it. “In the muliiiude of counsellors,” Solomon says, “there
is safety.” But he did no! say in the multitude of translators there is
safety. In giving counsel on meum and tuum, on “miney and thiney,”
there is much more facility, and much more safety, than in making faithful
versions of the doctrine of self-denial, and of taking up the cross. Si ill, a
company of select men, not selected by a King, a court, a metropolitan,
or an archbishop, but by a spiritually and heavenly-minded community,
selected out of a Christian community, may be found capable and honest,
single-minded and single-eyed enough, to guaranty a version true to the
original, as they are competent to understand and express it. Learned in
their own language, they must be, as well as in the original tongues.
But it has been often asked, What may be the destiny of such a version-
In other words, Who will receive it, and what will he its influence? Thi°
is a question which, however dogmatically propounded, cannot be so dog
matically answered. We are neither apostles nor prophets ; yet w r e can
freely express our opinion, and give some reasons for it.
In the first place, then, much will dtpend upon the reputed orthodoxy
and piety of those who execute it. The Society under whose patronage,
and by whose instrumentality it is proposed, is properly called the “ Bible
Union.” Not the Baptist Union.
Already it has been opposed and misrepresented as a Baptist Union, for
Baptist principles. A new measure to carry out immersionist views t f the
action of baptism, by translating baptism, immersion, and all its family,
root and branches, by immerse, immersing, immersed, immersion !! This
is about all the logic and all the rhetoric that has appeared in one hundred
and forty-four paragraphs, written, printed, and circulated against it, from
“Dan even unto Beersbeba,” from Boston to San Francisco, from Mul¬
berry street, New York, to Old Jewry, London 1
Truly, immersionists have been hardly pressed. They are now the
largest community in the Union, and annually gaining more than any
denomination in the number of its membership; fully equaling in popula¬
tion, wealth, and resources, one-fifth of the political and moral force of
this great nation !
What need have they of a new version, for the sake of translating this
family of baptizo? Have not all, or nearly all, the learned Rabbis and
Doctors of the Pedobaptist communities, affirmed not only that baptism
means immersion, but also, that it was so administered in the Apostles’
days? Ask Brenner, of the Church of Rome, what was the ancient apos¬
tolic baptism? He responds, that “immersion was practiced for thirteen
centuries almost universally, and from the beginning till nOw,” in the Gre; k
Church. Ask the English Episcopal Church how long did the church
practice immersion as the representative of baptism.? and Dr. Wall re¬
sponds, for 1600 years. Ask Luther what his judgment on the premises?
he answers, “I could wish that such as are to be baptized, should be care¬
fully immersed into water, according to the meaning of the word and the
signification of the ordinance; as also, without doubt, it was instituted by
Christ.” Ask the great American critic, the late Professor Stuart, what
is the English of baptize, and he affirms, “that it meens to dip, plunge, or
immerse in water, and that all lexicographers and critics of any note are
agreed in this.” And does not ancient history aver, that both Wickliffe
and Tindal were in their views immersionists ? With all these venerated
names—a mere cluster, culled from the orthodox Pedobaptist vine—what
n.ed have Baptists themselves to form a Baptist Bible Union, to inculcate
their views of immersion 11
But it will be whispered that other views than these—heretical and
false—are cherished by the Bible Union, and that the version will be color¬
ed by these. This has been insinuated; nay, printed and published by
Baptists themselves opposed to it! And what is the proof, or the basis of
such suspicion? Have not the leading movers of this Bible translation, as
now digested and exhibited by the Bible Union, been always regarded as
sound and orthodox on every vital doctrine of Christianity? Do not they
believe in the Fall of man; in the contamination and guilt of sin, which, as
a leprosy, has infected every child born into the world? Do they not be¬
lieve and teach the equal Divine nature and glory of the Father, and of
the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, as developed in the great work of re¬
demption, in and through the death, the sacrifice, or vicarious sufferings
of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do not they believe and teach that the Father
works, the Son works, and the Holy Spirit works, in the redemption, illu¬
mination, regeneration, sanctification, resurrection, and glorification of
man, through the grace of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son, and the
re-creative, renovating, regenerating influence of the Holy Guest of the
Christian temple, the mystic house of God, erected for an habitation of
God through the Spirit?
Can, then, our heterodoxy be alledged as an objection to any version
that we may make? Then there is no vital orthodoxj r , no real orthodoxy,
in Protestant Christendom. My own individual orthodoxy is too orthodox
for the orthodox prelates of a secterian world. I thank God, as Paul once
said to himself, in his own foolish way of boasting, I am more orthodox
than any of them. I have all their orthodoxy, and a little more besides.
And i know that the next generation—or, at the farthest, the one after
that—will acknowledge it. But if I know what orthodoxy means, and I
presume to think and to say that I do, there is nothing either catholic or scrip¬
tural in the Greek, Roman, or Protestant Church that I do not believe and
teach. There ismore than a sprinkling of heterodoxy in every sect in Chris¬
tendom. But that heterodoxy consits not in what are called the essential
doctrines of the Evangelical Remedial system. It consists much more in not
keeping the commandments of the Divine Redeemer, and in not scripturally
observing his ordinances of worship, than in any theory of the Fall of man,
or the necessity of sovereign and free grace, or of a Divinely ordained reme¬
dial system. A corect translation of the Christian Scriptures will do more
to unite, harmonize, and purify the Baptists, and to make them one great
evangelical co-operation for God’s glory and man’s salvation, than any
event since the Protestant Reformation. It will cause them to arise and
shine in the light of God and in the beauty of holiness, fair as the moon,
bright as the sun, and terrible as an army with triumphant banners.
We reason, then, from all our premises—and they are both large and
liberal—that any version consummated by the Bible Union can never be
objected to by any—the most orthodox party in Protestant Christendom.—
because of any theoretic or practical error held or propagated by any of
those who participate in its consummation. I am fully aware that the
wiles of the Devil will all be in requisition, ready to strangle it as soon as
born. But the Lord has always taken and subdued the Devil’s wise men
m their own craftiness, and shown that the weakness of God is stronger
than man or the Devil; and therefore, the preaching of old, stale, quaint,
spectacle-bestrid orthodoxy, will be as impotent now as was Herod's decree
to kill the new-born king of the Jews, by the slaughter of the innocents of
But seeing that the Bible Union is not a Baptist Union, nor is it an hete¬
rodox Union, but a Unioo for a pure, chaste, exact, faithful, and perspicu¬
ous version of the Christian Oracles, and ultimately of the whole volume
ot Divinely inspired truth, what is likely to be its fortunes, its future his¬
tory, or its destiny?
An answer to this question, though somewhat in the spirit of prophecy,
is not so very difficult as at the first presentation might be assumed or
imagined. If it be faithful and true to the original, and we assume that
such it will be, in the judgment of all truly enlightened men, it must, then,
in harmony with the history of man and the progress of the age, gain a
glorious triumph over its apponents. Their batteries will be silent, be¬
cause they will have b en silenced by the wory itself. It may be condem¬
ned and reprobated, indeed it will be, by a mere sectary, who has taken
the oath of allegiance to his present prejudices, for better or for worse, and
who, in advance of its appearance, has not only thought, but said, “no
good thing can come out of Nazareth,” and therefore never will. Such
was the fate and the fortune of Tyndal’s version. He was persecuted and
driven from England. He was persecuted in Flanders. He was put to
death by the orthodox of that day. His translation was inhibited in Eng¬
land; and yet, in a few years after, it was virtually the English Bibje, en¬
acted and ordained by the ecclesiastic and political potentates of England.
The present version was not, on its first appearance, a universal favorite.
Some preferred the Bishop’s Bible; others disliked both. One age burns
heretics; the next makes them saints and martyrs, and erects monuments
to their memory. No wise man, well read in civil or ecclesiastical his¬
tory, can expect a different state of things. The censure of one age, is
sometimes all praise in the judgment of the next; as the praise of one gen¬
eration is the shame and the reproach of the following. Christians live
for immortality, for eterniiy, and, therefore, to them it is a matter of little
or no account how their contemporaries may think or speak of them. The
only happy man is he whom the Lord approveth.
But what will be the fortunes of such a version, as we contemplate may
be rationally anticipated? It will, ultimately, be received by all the Im-
mersionists. Some of the elders, some of the scribes, some of the popular
doctors, some of the man-worshippers, will, no doubt, say of it when issu¬
ed, what they said of it before it appeared. This they will do to justify
the false position which, in a fitful mood, they unfortunately took on the
whole premises. This we expect, and shall not be disappointed. Human
nature, in the absence of Divine grace, runs in these channels. Yet we
say it will be ultimately received by all the immersionists, and by a por¬
tion of the non-immersionists. But in some instances, it will be read with
more interest to find out its faults, than to perceive its fidelity or its gen¬
eral excellency. All who plead for perspicuous and faithful versions, into
foreign tongues abroad, will be compelled to receive a perspicuous and
faithful version in their own Anglo-Saxon at home. We who are now ac¬
tors in the drama will soon die, and the prominent opponents of the work will
soon die. Our prepossessions and antipathies will die with us, and our la¬
bors will fall into more impartial hands. In one life-time, despite of all op¬
position, it will be generally read by enlightened Christians of our language,
probably in some points improved; but in those points to which special re¬
ference is had, just as we give it. Many may renounce it whose children
will only wish, “as duteous sons, their fathers had been more wise.”
But in saying so much of a new version to be made in the present day,
we are likely to be misunderstood. We do not really intend or wish for a
literally new version. We much prefer, in all cases, the common Anglo-
Saxon style and idiom, and never will capriciously change the verbiage,
unless when defective or unfaithful to the original, or otherwise in bad taste.
I am one, and have long been one, of the admirers of the Anglo-Saxon, of
the Common Version. And although often corrected and improved in its
defects, by such men as Campbell, Macknight, Doddridge, Ac., neither the
more sonorous and elegant Latinites of the former, nor the pure, and some¬
times too complaisant Grecisms of the latter, nor the combination of them
both, with less taste and vigor, by Doddridge, and other modern revision¬
ists, win my admiration, nor command my respect and affection, so much
as the pure Anglo-Saxon of the seventeenth century; as it mainly appears
in the revision of King James, and his forty-seven translators and revisers.
With Macaulay, and other distinguished writers of the present day, I believe
that much of the power and effect of the common Bible, and Bunyan’s Pil¬
grims’ Progress, are owing to the fact, that they are the only two good speci¬
mens of that style extant among us, and have, thereby, an easier and more
direct passport to the understanding, the conscience, and the heart of Eng¬
lish, Scotch, Irish and Americans than any other books in our language.
Ch ange, for the sake of change, in the Oracles of God, in any language,
is, in my judgment, bad taste and worse philosophy, and ought to be es¬
chewed, rather than cultivated or adopted, by each and every one who de¬
sires the word of God to run and be glorified in our day and generation.
Change without improvement is, in most cases, and, most of all, in Bible
translation, mere pedantry—more worthy of reprobation than of commen¬
dation, on the part of every lover of the Bible and of mankind. I love the
phrases and forms of speech in which our venerable and venerated fore¬
fathers were accustomed to clothe their conceptions of God, of Christ, and
of the great salvation, when they aimed their hearts to the praises of God,
or prostrated themselves before his mercy seat. I love, too, the forms of
speech in which they expressed their conceptions of his grace and of his
great salvation, when, in their ecstacies, they celebrated the wonders of
his grace and extolled his condescension to our lost and ruined world.
Magniloquence is the index of a weak and visionary mind; and a too pre¬
cise and formal style, in complaisance to the verbal livery of the times,
savors more of pedantry than of piety, more of the flesh than of ihe spirit,
more of the wisdom of men than of the power of God. Much learning,
real substantial learning, good common sense, much piety and spirituality
of mind, and a profound humility and reverence, are essential qualifica¬
tions of a good translator of the Oracles of God. We are therefore, more
disposed to ask, who is fit for such a work, rather than to hasten, rashly
or presumptuously upon it, as a matter of common concern or of ephemeral
duration. It is a good work, a great work, a solemn work, and must be ap¬
proached with great solemnity and self-examination. It is not a task to be
hastily assumed, and despatched with expedition. It is as solemn as death,
and as awful as eternity. If God commanded his servant Moses, when he
presented himself to him at Horeb, saying, “Draw not nigh hither; put off
thy shoes from off thy^ feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy
ground;” and if the Captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, when stand¬
ing in his presence, “Loose thy shoes from of thy feet, for the place on which
thou standest is holy,” with what solemnity and reverence should we pre¬
sume to touch “the ark of the covenant” of mercy, and to open its
contents to our contemporaries and to posterity? Should not, then,
such a work as is proposed, be undertaken, prosecuted, and consummated;
i in the spirit of a piety the most sincere, and of a reverence the most pro¬
There yet remains, my Christian brethren, another consideration, to
which I would especially solicit your concentrated attention. We live in
a sectarian, and, consequently, in a controversial age. Christianity, as it
I is called, has degenerated into a speculative science, and, therefore, in¬
to innumerable forms of opinionisms. Theories, instead of facts, specula-
’ tions instead of faith, forms and ceremonies instead of a new life, and a
profession of godliness without its vitality and poiver, are now, and long-
have been, the characteristics of the Christian profession. Asa necessary
consequence, we have been, as Paul predicted, “turned away from the
truth of Christ unto fables.”
When we survey the motley theatre of Christendom, it resembles a bad¬
ly colored map of the Eastern or Western Continent. Shade mingles into
shade, and color into color, until all the primary colors are lost, and one
immense variegated field of vision spreads before us full of mystery and
of wonder. The natural and the artificial lines, rectilinear and curvilinear,
which bound them and separate them, are the shades of each of the pri¬
mary colors, so numerous and so faint that no mortal ej e can separate
them, or mark where one commences and another ends.
The metaphysics of the new birth, or the speculative difference between
kneeling and standing in prayer, down to the ribbons on a bonnet, or the
corners of a collar, are sometimes made the badges of a holy brotherhood,
more important than faith, hope, or charity. A good sectary may violate,
with more impunity, five of the ten commandments, than any one of the
idol peculiarities of his denomination. This, too, unfortunately, has occa¬
sioned a characteristic difference in the pulpit exhibitions of the age, and
has given a fastidious importance to the theories and customs which other¬
wise would have occupied little or no part in public teaching or in public
In our country and in our generation, there are delivered, in the course
of the year, ten sermons on the new- birth for one upon the new life; as if
ten times more important to be born right than to live right; and yet, in
the former, the subject is entirely passive, and in the latter, wholly active.
In the w-hole New Testament we have but one paragraph on the new
birth, for a hundred on the new life. We have had, too, a thousand ser¬
mons in behalf of sprinkling a babe, and a thousand on immersing a be¬
liever, which all depended upon the non-translation or the mere transfer¬
ence of a word, witn the difference betw-een blood and faith, or flesh and
For all these, arid many such aberrations, there is but one sovereign and
grand specific—a pure, exact, a definite, and perspicuous translation of
the Christian Scriptures. This is, in my humble conception, the great
want of Christendom, the great want of the age, and the unanswerable ar¬
gument in favor of the Bible Union.
The very name Bible Union, has a charm in the ear of every friend of
truth, of every friend of God and of man. The Bible is God’s own foun¬
dation for the greatest Empire in creation. It is the constitution of the
Empire of Redeemed Humanity! We have had every other sort of union
but an union for a perfect English Bible. The Christian world, so called.
may co-operate in the great work which it proposes. And tin: a perfect
English Bible, for an English people, is needed for three great purposes,
will, I presume, on a proper exposition of the premises, be very generally
conceded. I he first., for the union of true Christians; the second, for the
conversion of the world; the third, for the perfection of the church. To
illustrate what we mean in such a broad affirmation, take an example or
two: 1. Let all Englishmen read immerse for baptize, and then would not
the baptismal controversy cease upon the action of baptism ? 2. Let
tnem lead congregation for church , overseer for bishop , and servant for cleueon ,
and where the basis for the patriarchy, for the papacy, or for the prelacy?
Love for charity, and where that spurious tolerance of error, as a sub¬
stitute for brotherly kindness and love ?
tu.-T, we say, for the union of true Christians. The most insuperable
barrier to this are the three prevailing- baptisms—baptism in water, with
faith ; baptism with water, without faith ; and baptism with the Spirit,
without either faith or water. There are, therefore, three meanings at¬
tached to Christian baptism. The first is, the immersion of a professed
believer in water. . The second is, the aspersion of water upon a person,
n iih or without faith. The third is, the affusion or effusion of the Spirit
of God upon a spirit, antecedent to, and independent of, either knowledge
or faith.. Thus the word baptize becomes a perfect enigma.
Baptize is neither Hebrew nor Greek, neither Latin nor English. It is a
modification of the Greek baptizo, the Roman form of which is identical
with the Greek. Hence the Greek and Roman Church practised immer¬
sion down to A. D. 1311 ; and the Greek Church, still older than the Ro¬
man, and vast in its territory, still practices it.
I he English Church, too, practised immersion down to the reign of Het,-
1 } \ III., and it was so ordained by statute of said Henry, in his Holy
Manuel or Guide of A. D. 1530. The statute of Henry Vlll., 21st, thus
speaks, ‘ Let the Priest take the child, and, having asked the name, baptize
him, by dipgnng him in water thrice
Indulgences were given, in after reign, to pour water upon weak babies ;
anu, very soon after, all the babies became weak, and could not even stand
the shock of pouring. . Then John Calvin mercifully interposed, and com¬
muted pouring for sprinkling. The Priests, English and Scotch, immedi¬
ate^ commenced a new kind of oratory, under the shield and the star of
the rhetorical, figures of a synecdoche, which puts a part for a whole, and
of a metalepsis, which authorizes old names to be applied to new things.
And so Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Episcopalians and Methodists,
liberal spirits all, in general have availed themselves of the tolerant indul¬
gence of the falsely styled “ intolerant Calvin.”
The Edinburgh Encyclopaedia is high authority in this case. Hear the
aiticle on baptism, in the words following, to-wit:
In this country, [Scotland,] however, sprinkling was never practised in
ordinary cases, till after the Reformation ; and in England, even in the
reign of Edward VI., trine immersion, dipping first the right side, secondly
* ie j _ s 'd e > a nd lastly the face of the infant, was commonly observed.
j>ut during the persecution of Mary, many persons, most of whom were
Scotchmen, fled from England to Geneva, and there greedily imbibed the
opinions ot that church. In 1556 a book was published at that Diace, con-
taming ‘ the form of prayers, and ministration of the sacraments, approved
by the famous and godly learned man, John Calvin,’ in which the adminis¬
trator is enjoined to take water in his hand and lay it upon the child’s fore¬
head. These Scottish exiles who had renounced the authority of the Pope,
implicitly acknowledged the authority of Calvin; and returning to their
own country, with Knox at their head, in 1559, established sprinkling in
Scotland. From Scotland this practice made its way into England, in the
reign of Elizabeth.”
Baptism and baptize were, by the order of King James, under the cap¬
tion of “ ecclesiastical words,” enjoined upon the translators, and w^ere
transferred into his version representing the ideas then current. Thus
the action first indicated by the adopted word baptize, was immmerse, but
now it is made to mean no specific action, and, therefore, it must be trans¬
lated by one specific word, to represent, in our ears, the precept of Christ .
I say, then, that in order to the union of Christians, we must have a defi¬
nite and unmistakeable term, in indicating one and the same conception to
every mind. If, then, the Christian Church ever become really and visibly
one, she must have one immersion, or one baptism ; and, if she become not
one. where is the hope of a millennium ? It is a dream!
Now, on observing the tendency of the two great bodies of Christian
professors—immersionists and non-immersionists—let me emphatically
ask, What does it show? What does it teach? Is not the manifest ten¬
dency of the past and present century towards immersion ? For every one
that lias renounced immersion and been sprinkled, are there not ten thousand
that have renounced sprinkling and been immersed? I speak in bounds,
probably far within the limits of truth. The immersionists in America
vary not much from one million. I mean not in theory, for the theorists
and the realists are more than a mere plurality to one; but I mean those
Of this million of immersed persons, how many had been sprinkled in
infancy? -From having’been a feeble, despised, and persecuted band, in
less than a century, in these United States, how stand they now? Has
ant oue in this assembly ever seen one immersed professor renounce it,
and receive sprinkling at the hand of a Protestant minister? I have never,
to my knowledge, seen such a case. Has any one present ever seen such
a case? If he have we wish to know it.
Now, then, is it not contrary to theory, to faith, to experience, to history,
to think of a millennium—of a union of all Christians—on Pedobapiist
principles? In order, then, to pray, or to preach, or to labor for a millen¬
nium, we must have a Bible that is most explicit on this great subject.
There cannot be a millennium—a united church—without acknowledging
one Lord, one faith, and one baptism ! Hence, my zeal is not for water,
much or little water—for dipping, pouring, or sprinkling; but for one im¬
mersion, for the sake of one Lord, one faith, and one church. I wish I
could, by any form of utterance, repeat these words that might insure them
a safe and a sure passport into every good heart.
The baptismal question, with me, is as much for the union pf Christians
as it is for the union of our hearts to the Lord, in order to the peace that
passes understanding, and the joy unspeakable and full of glory. Pardon
the emphasis I place on this topic. If it be not the main topic of this age.
it certainly will be of the next. The Bible Union, for anew, and true, and
faithful version of the Christian Scriptures, is, therefore, the greatest ec¬
clesiastic event of this our day, because the most pregnant of union, peace,
prosperity, and triumph to the Church of Christ.
But it may be asked, Why should an English version do more to effect
these great objects than a version in any other living tongue? Because,
we answer, of the people that speak this language. If not more in num¬
ber, they are more powerful than any other people. Their science and
arts, their religion and their general civilization, their Protestant energy of
character, their great and all-pervading commercial enterprise, and espe¬
cially their missionary spirit and their missionary success, give them the
vantage ground amidst all the languages and people of earth. But, better
still, the Almighty Ruler of the destinies of nations has hitherto counte¬
nanced and blessed England and America, more than any other people in
the world, and their English Bible is more generally read all over the earth,
than that of any other people or language in the word.
Regarding the past as the best omen for the future—viewing what God
has accomplished by English men, by English enterprise, by English Pro¬
testantism, by English Bibles—have we not in these premises enough to in¬
spire us with a vigorous hope, and with bright anticipations that the Bible
Union, organized for giving free course to the Divine Oracles, faithfully
and perspicuously translated into our vernacular, is, in its grand object and
aim, co-operating with God, and, consequently, under his guidance and
blessing, in the great work of redeeming man from ignorance, guilt, and
The second gi-eat object of a new version is the conversion of the world.
Our Redeemer, in his intercessory prayer, as reported by John, the belov¬
ed Apostle, has declared that the union of his friends and followers is es¬
sential to the conversion of the world. “I pray, Holy Father,” says he,
not for the Apostles only, nor for those only that now believe on me, that
they may le one as we are; but “ I pray for those, also, who shall believe on
me through their word, [or teaching,] that they all may be one —that as
thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, they also may be one in us, that the
world may believe that thou hast sent me, and that I have given them the
glory which thou gavest me, that they may be one even as we are one: I in
them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one ; and that the
world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast lov¬
ed me Though we had a thousand arguments to offer in the advocacy
of the necessity of the union of Christians, in order to the conversion of
the world of unbelieving Jews and Gentiles, we would not, on such an oc¬
casion, adduce one of them in corroboration of this one. They are all as
the twinklings of innumerable stars in a cloudless heaven, compared with
the splendors of a meridian sun, blazing in all his noon-day majesty and
effulgence on our world. The simple declaration of the fact, that the
union of Christians is necessary to the conversion of the word, by such a
person, on such an occasion, is as strong as the strongest mathematical de¬
monstration of physical truth, subjected alike to the senses and the under¬
standing of men.
So long as the Lord Jesus Christ—the Founder of the Christian Church
or Kingdom—has made its union, and spiritual communion in one God,
s through one Redeemer, and by one Holy Spirit, a means of the conversion
of the world, it could not be made more essential to that end by any enact¬
ment, ordinance, or oracle in earth or heaven. It is, therefore, now, and
for forty years past has been, with me, a fixed principle, that if a hundred
sects or schisms in Christ’s Kingdom were to send out their respective myr-
j iads of missionaries into all the nations of earth, the world , in our Saviour’s
sense, could not be converted, or made to believe that Jesus of Nazareth
is the true Messiah, the only Saviour of the world. I might show, in vol¬
umes, the evils of schisms, and so might another, and another, as conver-
; sant with these themes as any of us ; but the simple utterance of this
i prayer, for the union of all believers in the Divine person, and mission, and
work of Jesus, in order to the conversion of the world, eclipses, and will eter-
i nally eclipse them all. It is an end, a consummation most devoutly to be
! wished, but which never can be gained, while the Christian profession is
! severed and divided into innumerable parties, in perpetual conflict with one
another. The sword of ecclesiastic strife must be sheathed, and the hal¬
cyon flag of Zion must wave its peaceful folds on every Christian altar,
from one extremity of Christendom to the other.
Whatever, then, tends to the true interpretation or translation of the
Living Oracles into the languages of our Christendom, is an object of
transcendent, nay, of paramount importance, to the answer and accomplish¬
ment of our Redeemer’s prayer; to the health,peace, prosperity, and ulti-
j mate triumph of our most holy faith, over all the supersti ions and idola-
1 tries of earth. How much, then, need I ask, depends upon such a version
of the Holy Oracles as will give an exact and perspicuous interpretation
of every passage connected with each and every one of those unhappy
sources of error that have occasioned, or given any countenance to, those
: paralyzing schisms, which have, more or less, frustrated our missionary
i enterprises since the establishment of the first domestic or foreign mission
in Christendom ?
The third great object to be gained is the perfection of the church.
“ That they may be made perfect in one,” is a portion of the burthen of
our Lord’s intercessory prayer. Perfection is, therefore, the glory and fe¬
licity of man.
The perfectibility of human nature, by human instrumentality, has long
been the fascinating dream of visionary philosophers. A true philosopher,
or a true Christian, never cherished such an Utopian vision. But there is
a true, a real perfectibility 7- of human character and of human nature,
through the soul-redeeming mediation and holy spiritual influence of the
great Philanthropist—the Hero, the Author and Perfector of the Christian
faith. And there is a transforming power—a spiritual, a divine energy,
adequate to this end, in the gospel of Christ, as now dispensed by the Ho¬
ly Guest of the Christian temple.
It is first a spiritual, and finally a physical transformation of man, in his
whole physical, intellectual, and moral constitution. It is, in the measure
of his spiritual capacity, a perfect conformity to the perfect image of the
spiritual beauty and loveliness of the Divine Father himself. This is the
I glorious destiny of man under a remedial economy of means and influen¬
ces, expressed or suggested in the teachings of the Messiah, and fully de¬
veloped in the writings of his ambassadors to the nations. Our Divine
Master had tliis in his eye, when he prayed for the perfection of Chris¬
tians in and through himself.
Now, in order to this Divine scheme of redemption and transformation
of a fallen and ruined world, the whole volume of the Christian Scriptures
is, in the wisdom of God, inspired and fashioned as happily, as wisely, and
as benevolently, as light is to the eye, or harmony and melody to the ear.
To have the full-orbed sun of righteousness, mercy, and life, shining in all
his moral and spiritual splendors upon our souls, in the light of a life di¬
vine and everlasting, is the choicest boon of heaven, and the richest treas¬
ure almighty love ever imparted to any portion of God’s intellectual and
spiritual universe. Ought not, then, these animating and cheering rays of
Divine light be permitted to shine into our souls, in the clear and cloud¬
less atmosphere of a pure and transparent interpretation or translation of
the Divine originals of our most precious and holy faith ! And what con¬
science purified from guilt, what heart touched with the magnet of ever¬
lasting love, and sanctified by faith, does not pant after the full fruition of
the light of God’s countenance, reflected upon us in the mirror of Divine
If, then, there be an object that supremely claims our concentrated ener¬
gies and our most vigorous efforts; if there be happiness, honor, and glo¬
ry, in our assimilation to the Divine image ; if the union of all the chil¬
dren of God in one holy brotherhood ; if the conversion of the world to
the obedience of faiih ; if the perfection of Christian character through
faith, hope, and love—through an ardent zeal and devotion, be objects of
paramount value and importance—be pre-eminently desirable, ought not
all the talents, and learning, and grace, which God has vouchsafed to his
church of the present day, be consecrated and devoted to the consum¬
mation of this transcendent work !
But again: none but Baptists can do this great work. I do not mean
Old School or New School Baptists. Many of both are unfit for it; not
merely for the want of learning, but because they are mere Baptists—no
more than Baptists. The mere Jew gloried in circumcision, and the mere
Baptist, in the same spirit, glories in immersion. But there are myriads
of Chiistian Baptists, of regenerated, enlarged, ennobled Baptists, who
glory in truth and in the God of truth ; men of large minds, of liberal
hearts, of expanded and expanding souls, zealous for truth and for the God
of truth. These are all moved and moving in the direction, and under the
guidance of the Spirit of truth and of a sound discriminating mind. They
never were all Israel who were of Israel. Neither are they all baptized
into Christ who are baptized in water. But a portion of the Jews returned
from the Babylonian Captivity. None but Baptists of enlightened under¬
standings, of large and liberal hearts, of pure conscience, and of faith un¬
feigned, can cordially, zealously, and perseveringly participate in an enter¬
prise so grand and sublime.
Still, none but immersionists do discern the spirituality of the Kingdom
of Christ. In reason’s ear, in reason’s name, how can that man appre¬
hend the spirituality of Christianity, and the spirituality of Christ’s King¬
dom, who will, in virtue of his being flesh and blood, carry in his arms all
born of his flesh, to the bason, and into the church, and enroll them as
baptized into Christ? Because wet with only one drop of rose water,
gravely affirm, that one drop is as good as an ocean ! And true it is, that
neither a drop nor an ocean can sprinkle or immerse man, woman or child,
into a faith which he has not, and into a Christ which he knows not of.
I could as soon believe that Louis Napoleon is a pure democrat, and the
Pope a genuine republican, as that a sprinkled or dipped babe has been
christianized by one drop or one ocean, without the knowledge and the
faith of Christ. But why argue this case farther"?
Shall we not, then, brethren, not merely propose, approve, and adopt the
resolution offered, or some otl.er one to the same effect, but, wi h one heart
and soul, co-operate with our brethren everywhere like minded, in the pros¬
ecution and consummation of this great work, and, through good report or
bad r port, cleave to it. and prosecute it, until we shall have, in our own
living tongue as now spoken, the words of eternal truth and love, circulat¬
ing from East to West, from North to South, wherever our language is
spoken, to the last domicil of man ; and this, too, in the firm conviction and
assurance that time, the most potent revolutionist, will make it a grand
auxiliary in the great work of uniting, harmonizing, and purifying the
Church of Christ, and of converting, sanctifying, and saving the w r orld !
, ° n P ' ,Se : ’ 1 — ClosiD 3 of second paragraph, read “though just and inevitable, has often
been, at the time, unforeseen.”
Same Page—First line of third paragraph, read “their responsibility.” instead of “this
Page 56 First line, read “powerful antagonist ,” instead of “ antagonism
taunc I age— 1 ifteenth line from bottom, read ‘It is therefore vain,” instead of 'Isit,” &c.
Page' 59—Fourth line of first paragraph, read, “Church of England version,” instead of
“Church of English version.”
I' 1 ' 6 f ' 11 thirteenth line from bottom, read “these several conditions,” instead of
“ the ' &c.
Page 71—Eighth line from bottom, read “ zayin ,»» instead of “ zazin .”
lage 101—For ‘ metamdomai ” read “ metumelomai ”
t’age 115—Read “and being hade able,” instead of “being able.”
Page IIS—Read “presbuteroi instead of "presbuteros^'