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To this conclusion, exception is taken, chiefly on two grounds. First, it is objected that “the headings and contents of the chapters in the authorized editions, are of the nature of ‘notes and comments,' and, as such, are prohibited by the Constitution."
This objection comes too late. It has been shown that these accessories were adopted by the Society, and have been printed and circulated by it, at least in an abridged form, from the date of its organization until
They may be of the nature of “notes and comments,” but they are clearly not such notes and comments as the founders of the Society and their successors designed to prohibit. It was a part of the original compact to publish them, and they have been sent forth in millions of copies of the Bible, with the general concurrence of the members of the Society. When called upon on a certain occasion to alter them, the Managers disavowed the right to do it. Now they have done, without solicitation, what, twenty-five years ago, they alleged they had no authority to do. Not only so, but to replace the old headings and contents of chapters with the proposed new ones, would be, it is maintained, to violate the Constitution. For these, like the old ones, partake more or less of the character of notes and comments. This inheres in the nature of the thing, and cannot be avoided. But the former accessories were included in the compact, and these are not. While the constitutional prohibition, therefore, is conclusive as against the new headings, it is powerless in respect to the series which it is proposed to discard.
The second ground of objection referred to is, that some of the headings and contents of chapters are insufficient, offensive in phraseology, or positively erroneous.
In reply to this it may be observed, (1.) That the proportion of headings open to these animadversions, is not very considerable. (2.) No serious evil, it is believed, has resulted from the use of them. (3.) The Bible Society is in no sense responsible for them. It has simply to print according to the “copy.” If the "copy" embraces matters which fail to command its approval, it is better, nevertheless, to adhere to the copy and fulfil its contract, than to alter the copy and infringe its contract. (4.) The new headings may, perhaps, be found as vulnerable as the old. That they lack the true ring of the ancient sunimaries, and are out of keeping with the terse, bracing old Saxon of the text, must be felt by every one who examines them. But this is not to be urged in disparagement of the collators. The difficulty appertains to the nature of the work, and would be invincible to any committee. It were well, however, to remember that there is a negative as well as a positive way of inculcating
And those who look in vain along the columns of the Old Testament for the rich Christology of the earlier editions, will be apt to feel that the infelicities of the ancient headings have been cancelled at too great an expense. Taken as a whole, the cause of truth would fare better with the old headings than with the new ones.
(5.) Nor can it be alleged that the ground here assumed must tend to perpetuate "acknowledged errors” in the Bibles issued by the Society, and prevent all “growth” even in the accessories of the text. The Bibles of our day, as already intimated, are more correct than most of the earlier editions, and the headings have been improved. It is reasonable to suppose that the same gradual amelioration will go on. By degrees obnoxious headings will give place to others, in the standard English editions.
These, when accepted by the Christian public, may be incorporated, after due collation, in the Bibles of this Society. Changes made in this way would no doubt be deemed compatible with the spirit of the Constitution, and meet with general approval. But the case would be widely different should the Board challenge the right to banish all the old headings and substitute others at its own discretion; or, in other words, attempt to exercise the same authority over the accessories of the text as that which is claimed by private editors and annotators. This more than doubtful power, which no one pretends to find in the letter of the charter, but which is supposed to reside in the Society as an original attribute proper to its organic existence, the Board can exercise, if at all, only under protest from a very large and influential portion of its constituency.
A few words may be allowed, in concluding this paper, on the question of expediency here presented. The observation has frequently been made in the progress of this matter, that the whole controversy resolves itself into the question of authority or power. This is so far correct, that if this point be ruled against the advocates of the new edition, it settles the whole case. The Society cannot be asked to publish a Bible which its constitution gives it no authority to publish. But if the decision be the other way, and the Managers satisfy themselves that they have the power, under their constitution, to issue this edition, the question, whether they ought to exercise this power, remains to be disposed of; and a most pregnant question it will be found. It may, peradventure, involve the very existence of the Society as a catholic and national insti. tution.
The Board, it must be remembered, have to deal with an existing state of things. Eight years ago they were publishing Bibles wbich gave general satisfaction to their constituents and to the Christian people of this country. Animated by a laudable zeal for the purity of the sacred text and its accessories, they ordered a collation of standard editions of the Bible, with a view of preparing an edition of the highest attainable accuracy and completeness. This work was confided to a learned and able committee, who bestowed upon it an amount of labour and time and care which entitle them to the gratitude of all true friends of the Holy Scriptures. The edition thus prepared had been for some few years in circulation before the public attention was called to the number and extent of the particulars in wbich it varied from previous editions. The note of alarm once sounded, this question soon passed into the current discussions of the day; and it is now agitated with a vehemence which imperils the well-being of the Society. There is a wide-spread conviction that the Committee engaged in the late revision have gone beyond the constitutional powers of the Society, and made alterations both in the text and its accessories wbich contravene the fundamental article of its charter. This feeling is neither local nor sectarian. It prevails in various parts of the country, and in different branches of the Church. It has found expression in the proceedings of auxiliary Bible Societies, in the formal action of ecclesiastical bodies, and in numerous communications, oral and written, addressed to the parent Institution. It will not do to treat the sentiment as a mere caprice or prejudice. It is entertained by men of the highest character for learning and piety, steadfast friends of the Society, and on every ground entitled to a respectful hearing, where the question is concerning the powers conveyed to the Society by the Constitution. It were worse than idle to attempt to coerce men of this stamp or the churches they represent, into the support of a policy which they believe to be without authority from the charter.
All they demand is, that the Society shall go back to its former position; that it shall stand precisely where it stood from 1816 to 1851, and do its work on the same principles wbich it faithfully adhered to for thirtyfive years. . If this reasonable request is denied, all present indications point to a disruption of the Society as inevitable. It may still exist, and persons of various denominations may continue to co-operate with it; but it will cease to be a great national institution, and a bond of union among the Protestant churches of the United States.
It is for the Board of Managers to decide whether they have the moral right to pursue a course which must thus jeopard the priceless interests committed to their care. They can recede without reproach to the emi. nent men engaged in the late revision, and without losing the very valuable results of their la bours. Is it too much to hope that these distinguished scholars and divines, whose work is brought under review in the present discussion, will, in the existing circumstances of the case, counsel the Society to return to the publication of the Bible as it was prior to the recent collation ?
As essential to carry out these views, the following resolutions are respectfully recommended to the Board for their adoption, to wit:
“1. It is the judgment of this Bourd that the American Bible Society has no authority, under its present Constitution, to make any changes, either in the text of the English Bible in common use at the date of its organization, or in the accessories of the text, except as the same may be warranted by collation with acknowledged standard editions of the Sacred Scriptures.
“2. The present standard English Bible of this Society is hereby recommitted to the Committee on Versions, with instructions to re-collate the same with the standard editions enumerated in the report of that Committee, to wit: recent copies of the four leading British editions, viz., those of London, Oxford, Cambridge, and Edinburgh; together with the original edition of 1611, and the royal octavo edition issued by this Society in 1847. It is further directed that, in respect to the text itself, with the orthography, capital letters, words in italic, parentheses, brackets, and punctuation, the American copy shall be conformed to the recent British copies, or a majority of the same; and such headings and contents of the chapters may be adopted as have the sanction of any of these authorized editions. It shall be competent to the Society, however, to use the abbreviated headings and contents of the chapters, as the same are found in former issues of this institution, and in various British editions ; or, at the discretion of the Board of Managers, to print Bibles and Testaments without these accessories.
“3. The Committee on Versions shall report from time to time to the Board of Managers; and no changes shall be incorporated in the Bibles issued by the Society, until the same shall have received the formal approval of the Board.
“4. The collation herein ordered, and the publication of the revised edition, shall be made with as little delay as circumstances may permit. While this work is in progress, the Society shall confine itself, so far as may be practicable, both in the publishing and the gratuitous distribution
of English Bibles, to editions conformed to those issued by it anterior to the late revision ; and when completed, the printing of the present standard edition shall be discontinued.
« HENRY A. BOARDMAN,
"JAMES LENOX. “New York, Jan. 14, 1858."
In the progress of this controversy frequent reference bas been made to the Society's first edition of the Bible, in 12mo, printed in 1816, from the plates of the New York Bible Society. This edition has been cited to show that the Society exercised at that period a plenary discretion in respect to the beadings and contents of the chapters. It has even been stated, somewhat unguardedly, that "in much the larger parts of the book, these headings, etc., were altogether new, and not conformed to any known previous editions, but original with the editor.”
Since the above paper was written, this Bible of 1816 has been carefully collated with a London 12mo, printed by Eyre & Straban, in 1817. The following are the results : 1. Desiguating the English Bible as No. 1, and the American as No. 2; No. 1 bas the summaries in the first abridged form, commonly used in the British Bibles. To the 8th chapter of Judges, No. 2 has the summaries in full: there are 19 instances in which it departs from No. 1, some of them very slight; others omissions, or changes in the phraseology.
2. From the 8th of Judges to the close of the volume the contents of the chapters in No. 2 (except as indicated in 3 below) are very much abridged. These abridgments are, in the majority of cases, taken totidem verbis from No. 1, or frequently from the headings of the columns in No. 1. (There are no headings of columns in No. 2.)
The differences which can be traced to neither of these sources amount to 60—total 79.
3. The contents of the chapters in No. 2 are omitted entirely from the books of Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, the three Epistles of John, Jude, and the Apocalypse. They are also omitted in No. I from chapter 8th to chapter 25th of Proverbs.
On examining the abridgments in the second form by a London and an Edinburgh copy, it is found that these do not agree together, and that those of No. 2 are taken from neither.
There are in the Bible 1189 chapters. Deduct the chapters in No. 2 which have no summaries, 228, minus the 15 which have none in No. 1, there are remaining 976 chapters. Of these, the summaries in the Bible Society's edition differ from those of the English edition in 79 chapters; and they are copied from the English editions in 895 chapters. From these facts the following
conclusions may be fairly deduced : 1. It was the design of the American Bible Society to print the ordinary Bible with the usual accessories. Wishing to commence operations as speedily as possible, they seem to have taken the plates of the New York Bible Society, without much examination.
2. Both these Societies wished to make a cheap volume. The Bible they published has 1086 pages to the 8th chapter of Judges, 250). Had there been no abridgment nor omission of the summaries, the volume would have gone to 1200 pages.
3. The 60 instances where they vary from the contents of chapters in the English editions show that there was a desire to present a summary of the whole chapter, no clause given in that edition being sufficiently comprehensive.
These inferences seem to be legitimate from the premises, and verging towards certitude in the proportion of 895 to 79. And the whole investigation shows that no use can fairly be made of the Bible of 1816, by way of invalidating the principles affirmed by the Board in their recent action upon this subject.
PRAYERS FOR THE USE OF FAMILIES. By Albert BARNES. Philadelphia: T. De
Prayers for the use of families have their true place and value. Many a fervent supplication has been offered up to God, in the thoughts of others, supplied for family use in publications. The prayers in this volume have been selected from a great number of authors, who are in high repute in the Church; and it would be difficult to make a better selection. The Introductory Essay is in the respected author's best style. The volume is, in all respects, an inviting one.
The Divine LIFE; a Book of Facts and Histories. By the Rev. John KENNEDY,
M.A., F.R.G.S. Presbyterian Board of Publication. 12mo. pp. 378.
The peculiarity of this work is, that it illustrates Christian doctrine, and the life which flows from it, by the incidents of Christian experience. The subjects of wbich it treats are, I. The nature of the divine life. II. Its origination through the Spirit. III. The providential occasions which contribute to it. IV. The true means of its rise and progress.—More important and interesting topics could not be handled in a single volume. The various incidents of biography and of providential concurrence, which abound in these pages, are, in themselves, of rich and permanent value. The proper combination of abstract doctrine and interesting anecdote is of difficult attainment. A preacher who is always telling stories in the pulpit, will soon perplex and weary his audience ; whereas a good incident, occasionally interwoven into the narrative, produces a great impression. The distinct aim of the volume before us is to delineate doctrine on the background of religious experience, and to demonstrate the unity of Christian life by the very diversity of its real developments. A large amount of incident, therefore, that has a bearing upon the different points of investigation, is not only tolerated, but is expected and required.
We predict that this volume will be well received by the Christian public, and that it will produce useful results in the edifying of the people of God, and in the awakening of the careless. The originality of the method employed by the writer to fix divine truth in the mind, will be of service in a day like this. If such a book would ever meet with more favour at one time than another, this is the time for it to do its work.