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clergy of the English college, first established at Douay, but then removed to Rheims. Their translation of the Old Testament was published at Douay, (to which town the college had then returned), in two volumes quarto, in the year 1609 and 1610.
2. The Rheimish version of the New Testament, but with some variation, both in the text and notes, was reprinted at Douay in 1600. The version of the New Testament was often reprinted. In 1738, it was beautifully printed in London, in one volume folio, and, in the title page, is called the fifth edition.
3. An English roman-catholic translation of the New Testament, with a few (but very few,) notes, was published at Paris in 1719, in one volume octavo. The translator was Dr. Cornelius Nary; the approbation of Dr. John Farely, president of the Irish college at Paris, of Mr. Fogarty, Dr. of Sorbonne, of Mr. Moore, vicar-general of the roman-catholic archbishop in Dublin, and of Francis Walsh, a roman-catholic priest in Dublin, are prefixed to it. The translation is said to be respectably executed.
4. In 1730, an English translation of the New Testament, but, on the ground-work of the Rheimish and Douay version, was published at Douay, by Dr. Witham, the president of the English college in that town, with many concise and useful
5. In 1749, 1750, a new edition, both of the Old and New Testament, with some alteration in the text, and much in the notes, was published from this version, by Dr. Challoner, in five volumes The New Testament of that edition has been often reprinted; but it is asserted, that the editions subsequent to that of 1749, are incorrect, and that the edition of 1749 is to be preferred to any of them.
It is much to be desired, that we had a good literary history of the English versions of the Bible by the roman-catholics, and of the controversies to which they have given rise. The account given of them by Mr. Lewis, in his "History of the Translations of the Holy Bible and New Testament into English," is very imperfect, and written with an evident prejudice against the catholic religion.
6. Two editions of the catholic version of the whole Bible in folio, and one of Dr. Challoner's version of the New Testament in octavo, have recently appeared. A stereotype edition also of the latter, in octavo, has lately been published, by the direction of the Roman-catholic Bible Society, under the care of the late Dr. Rigby, a learned and pious roman-catholic priest.
It is highly probable, that, with more time for the inquiry, and, (I should certainly add,) with more knowledge of the subject, many other instances of the zeal of the catholic church, to spread the sacred writings, might be collected. But surely those,
which I have mentioned, abundantly show, that in every age, it has always been her wish, that the sacred volumes should be circulated, in every country, into which the christian religion has penetrated; and that the charge made against her of withholding the Bible from her flock, has, to say no more, been unmercifully exaggerated. The exaggeration has been carried so far, as to have made it nearly the universal belief of protestants, that withholding the Bible from the general body is The Rule, and the liberty to read it, The Exception; whereas it is much nearer the truth to say, that the withholding of it is The Exception, and the liberty, The Rule.
An objection is made to some harsh expressions, which occur in the notes to the Rheimish version, and in the notes to Dr. Challoner's edition of that version.
1. With respect to the former, I am far from approving any expression of this nature, which is justly censurable; but, when the harsh expressions of the Rheimish annotators are brought forward, -the dungeons too,-the racks, the gibbets, the fires, the confiscations, and the various other modes of persecution, in every hideous form, which the catholics of those days endured, should not be forgotten. That these should have produced some expressions of bitterness, from the writers in question,
cannot be a matter of surprise; if something of the kind had not fallen from them they would have been more than men. But, permit me to ask, whether the language of their protestant adversaries were more courteous? To ascertain this, I wish my readers to turn to the first and last pages of Dr. Fulke's "Texts of the New Testament." In the first page of it, he tells the Rheimish translators, that, "they had perverted the Bible, by their partial translation, and poisoned it with their heretical and blasphemous annotations ;-that they craftily begged of their favourers in England larger exhibition, upon colour of printing their translation of the Bible." In the last page he tells them, that "the words of their prayer were good and godly; but, that they proceeded not from a faithful heart, not only their wilful and obstinate maintaining of errors, against the most clear light of truth, with their intolerable licentiousness of lying and slandering the saints of God, did sufficiently declare."
-That, "though they could speak good words on hypocrisy, yet their heart knew, and their cauterized conscience could not but bear witness, that they dared not abide the tryal of God's judgment, howsoever, (as all wicked offenders did commonly) they appealed to it."-Are these passages exceeded by any contained in the Rheimish annotations? If they are not, permit me to ask, why the romancatholics of the present day should be criminated for an alleged intemperance of some of the
Rheimish notes, and the protestants of the present day should not be alike liable to crimination, for the equal intemperance of the antagonists of the Rheimish annotators ?"
2. With respect to Dr. Challoner's notes, some of them have been pronounced illiberal or uncharitable. I doubt whether any of them, if they were construed in the sense in which the venerable prelate himself understood them, would be found to merit either of these epithets. This, however, cannot be settled, without a minute discussion of each note; but, if any passages, really exceptionable on either of these grounds, can be found in them, it must be allowed that these passages are not numerous :-And it must also be allowed, that, even now, roman-catholics are occasionally treated by their protestant opponents, with expressions of at least equal asperity. The first sentence of the preface to the work intitled, "Roman-catholic Claims," (a very recent publication), politely informs us, that, "misrepresentation, evasion, and untruth, are the usual weapons of controversial popery."
It is full time that this polemic rudeness should cease. The Roman-catholic Board, by their resolution of the 9th of February, 1813, declared, "That they decidedly disapproved of every publication, either illiberal in language, or uncharitable in substance; injurious to the character, or offensive to the just feelings of any of their christian brethren."