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few observations relative to attempts like the one which is now submitted to the public.
Mr. Bellamy's projected translation of the Bible, ushered into the world with the most presumptuous claims, and with a declared contempt for all former translators, has naturally awakened the attention of the learned to the merits of our authorized version. He openly avers, that “ the common translations, in all the European languages, were made from the modern Septuagint and the Vulgate ;” that “the present authorized version, and all the national versions of Europe, were translated from the Vulgate;" that our translators “ confined themselves to the Septuagint and the Vulgate; so that this was only working in the harness of the first translators; no translation having then been made, from the original Hebrew only, for 1400 years.
The gross absurdity of these assertions scarcely requires the refutation, though their pernicious tendency deserves the severe castigation, they have received from Todd, Whittaker, Hyman Hurwitz, and the Quarterly Reviewer; by whom the general excellence of the English Bible has been unanswerably demonstrated.
Bellamy's General Preface, p. 1, 2, and Introduction, p. 40. In these assertions he is followed by Sir James Bland Burges, Reasons in favour of a new Translation, p. 124.
It remains a question, however, whether the laudable zeal of these writers, in defence of the English version, has not carried them too far. Neither the critical learning of our Translators was, perhaps, so great, nor the execution of their task so perfect as these authors lead us to suppose; and the impression upon my own mind, from a perusal of their performances, is, that they tend to exalt the merits of the English Bible somewhat beyond what any translation can justly claim. I would go a great way, though not the whole length, with these able advocates; and yield to none in sincere respect for the general fidelity and excellence of the standard version. Still I am convinced that it has numerous defects, that it is in some places unintelligible, in many erroneous, and in more might be improved. Even one of the learned antagonists of Mr. Bellamy acknowledges, that “ the English translation contains blemishes which call for correction, and they who are most attached to it are the most anxious to see them removed."*
These faults, it is readily granted, are not of such a nature as to affect essentially any article of faith, or any rule of duty; but they are, nevertheless, faults, and surely it must be owned, that it would be better, were it possible, to have them rectified. For this reason many sound and eminent divines have recommended a revision by public authority; but, with deference to their judgment, it may well be doubted whether the
* Whittaker's Historical and Critical Inquiry, &c. p. 40.; see also p. 110. * See Remarks on the Critical Principles adopted by Writers who have recommended a New Translation of the Bible, 8vo, Oxford, 1220, and the same anonymous Author's Reply to Professor Lee, 8vo, Oxford, 1821, in both of which Pamphlets there are some excellent observations on this subject.
period has yet arrived for the due execution of · an undertaking so momentous.*
Questions of Scriptural criticism' remain undecided sufficiently numerous to preclude the hope of giving universal, or even general satisfaction, by a new revision of the public translation. It is yet in dispute what text should be established for the basis of an improved version, whether the received text, as I am inclined to believe, should be followed, or it should be innovated upon by bold and (shall I say?) presumptuous critics. It is not agreed what credit may be due to the kindred dialects, nor how far the ancient versions should prevail. We are still destitute of the critical editions of the Syriac version and the Targums; nor have the stupendous efforts of modern intellect removed all the obscurities in which many passages of the Inspired Writings are involved.
Under these circumstances, an authorized revision of the English Bible, instead of producing any substantial good, is more likely to create division and dissension, to augment the bitterness of controversy, and to animate the fury of contending zeal. Whatever alterations are made, they will be considered, by different sects and parties, as more or less affecting their respective tenets; and there can be «no tame spectator of an attempt, in which all will believe their vital interests are concerned. In the present distempered state of the public mind, the most disastrous consequences might be apprehended from an undertaking which would almost inevitably plunge it into the turbulent ocean of polemical theology. While rival scholars would support their several systems with the stubbornness of preconceived opinion, the belief of wellmeaning, but illiterate, minds would be liable to be shaken by a change in what they have been accustomed to revere as the standard of their faith. The style and phraseology of the authorized version have become venerable; it has acquired a sacredness of character by being handed down, for two centuries, from father to son, as the Word of God; its very errors are, in a manner, consecrated by the reverential respect of the people; and it is not likely that any superior accuracy would, in the present feverish state of public opinion, compensate for the dangers of innovation.
Nor would the danger be altogether avoided by commencing the design with a few alterations, such as the generality of Biblical scholars would approve; for, be the alterations greater or less, some would, probably, consider them as levelled against their peculiar opinions, while the ignorant and prejudiced would, most likely, be shocked by any change in what they have been accustomed to revere. It is, in all cases, a hazardous attempt to alarm the religious feelings of the people. With whatever specious pretences reform may be recommended, it is always a measure of peril, unless the necessity be evident, and most of all in the article of religion ; a subject so identified with the most exalted hopes, so interwoven with the noblest sentiments and most generous feelings of the soul, that it is neither politic nor wise to tamper with that, around which she throws the veil of her consecration.
Were an improved version substituted, it may reasonably be feared that it would excite, in the minds of many, a desire of further change, to the progress of which it would not be easy to set bounds. At present all sects and parties have one common standard, to which they appeal in