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After the rise of Christianity, translations into all languages were multiplied. The Latin one that came at length to be called the Vulgate, is in many respects worthy of being particularly mentioned. It had long been in use ; but it was first established as authoritative among the Catholics by the council of Trent, A. D. 1545-1563.
The Latin language in which the Bible could be read by the learned of various nations; the multitude of transcribers in the cloisters; and most of all, the invention of printing, have contributed to the general circulation of the Bible. The modern Bible Societies are now most vigorously prosecuting the work.
In Germany, where the first Bible was printed at Mainz, in 1462, Luther's translation has conduced more than any other, to the general reading of the Scriptures. By that work, he has conferred a lasting benefit
. [The common English translation, as revised by order of King James I. was first printed, at London, in 1611.)
The Catholic church confines the personal reading of the Bible, principally to the teachers. The Protestant claims for each person the right to do this, and urges it upon his conscience as a duty.
The old manuscripts of the Bible, as well as the printed editions, as might be expected, often vary from each other in particular expressions ; but seldom is the sense or general scope of a passage affected at all by these variations. Here, as in all ancient writings, criticism is not only permitted, but it is necessary; and there have not been wanting learned men, who have laboriously collected and examined the facts most important to be known. Among these critics, may be mentioned Michaelis, Kennicott, De Rossi, Wetstein, Griesbach, Matthäi, and Knapp.
The superscriptions and naming of the contents, the divisions into chapters and verses, and the punctuation ; all this was furnished, not by the original writers, but by comparatively modern editors. It is often erroneous, and done without due care and respect to the contents.
In judging of the contents of the sacred Scriptures, we look at their relation either to the first readers, which is local and temporary, or to the later readers, which is general.
The first object of these writings has respect to the age in which they arose. In this, much has fulfilled the purpose for which it was designed ; and it belongs not to the religious knowledge that is necessary for every one, although in another respect it may be highly valuable.
What was written with special reference to the times then present, and what is of general application, furnish a treasure of important instructions on religion and morals; and the New Testa. ment is the most eminent, and the only genuine original record of the teaching of Jesus that we possess. The Bible has, from early times, found many opposers.
Some are scoffers rather than reasonable inquirers. To most of the opposers there has been wanting a knowledge of facts. They confound the erroneous interpretation of the Bible, with the Bible itself. They repeat their old objections that have been a hundred times satisfactorily answered ; and they overlook what is clear and adapted to be universally useful, and dwell only on what is dark and difficult.
If we expect to be benefitted by the Bible as a religious book, we must not only have a general acquaintance with its contents, but also we must rightly understand what we read; we must be duly instructed concerning the facts that may illustrate difficult . passages; and, especially, we must come to the reading of the Scriptures with the disposition of disciples.
That there are difficulties which have not yet been entirely removed no one can think strange, when he considers how brief the narratives often are, and how many little circumstances well known to the first readers, are unknown to us.
The historian of the nation would naturally mention many things that, to us, may in themselves seem unimportant; but to his cotemporaries they may have been important; and to us at the present day they are far from being useless, inasmuch as they are indelible marks of the distant age, and proofs of the genuineness of the books. In the preceptive parts, much has reference only to the Jewish as a national religion; and so is not intended for us.
He who reads the Bible with a desire to learn, and with a sincere and pious mind, will find it the richest fountain of instruction and comfort, and eminently conducive to the increase of genuine piety. No one can number nor utter the various blessings which, in the hand of Providence, it has been the instrument of spreading among men.
REVIEW. Memoir of Mrs Ann H. JUDSON. Second Edition. It is gratifying to perceive the interest which intelligent and inquisitive readers are taking in the Memoir of Mrs Judson. We welcome the early appearance of a new edition of this work ; a work, which, we trust, Divine Providence will employ as a means of giving a new impulse to all our missionary efforts, and a new fervency. to our prayers.
The more the book is known, the more it will be sought for and read. And whoever reads it, will be likely to recommend it to the perusal of his friends. But we need not expa. tiate here. Our opinion of its uncommon value was expressed briefly in the number for April. The cheering intelligence which has recently been received from Burmah, will not fail to increase the desire, which is beginning to be very generally felt, to become acquainted with the remarkable history of the Mission in that Empire.
Among other notices of the Memoir of Mrs Judson, we have observed one in 'The Christian Examiner,' the leading periodical of thuse of our Pedobaptist neighbors who are generally called Unitarians. We have read it with emotions of joy and of grief. We have rejoiced that it exhibits so much of candor and frank
“We have read this volume with much interest. It exhibits a life of remarkable adventure, exposure, and sufferings, sustained, as we doubt not, by an unwavering trust in God, and by many excellent virtues. Whatever diversity of opinion may be entertained as to the wisdom, or even the propriety of the
course, which was at first voluntarily adopted, and afterwards, in part from necessity pursued, no one can read these Memoirs without admiration of the constancy, heroism, and self-sacrifice, which almost without an exception, from her first departure from her native land, to the day of her death, Mrs Judson seems to have maintained. Some allowances, undoubtedly, must be made for the unavoidable colorings of biography. The partiality of friendship, and even the mere attempt at description, will give a prominence to incidents and virtues, to which they are not entitled. .... We would not be understood to apply these remarks particularly to the subject of these Memoirs, but as just limitations of biography in general. The incidents in the life of Mrs Judson are, without the slightest exaggeration, of the most extraordinary nature, such as few indeed of her sex, and not many of ours, can exhibit. They demanded, and they produced, uncommon qualities. In the most literal and extended meaning of the terms, her history might be recorded in the very words of the most faithful and patient of all Christian missionaries. For, for months and even years, she was "in journeyings often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in weariness and painfulness, in hunger and thirst.” Of every one of these dangers, her history, which we have no reason to doubt is authentic, gives some examples. ..... It has the merit of a faithful compilation, and particularly, the merit, which in such works is not to be accounted small, of permitting the subject to speak, that the reader may judge for himself.'
After a brief re-capitulation of the most prominent incidents in the life of Mrs Judson, our Unitarian neighbor proceeds, ' The great consideration which the perusał of this volume, and indeed of the whole history of foreign missions, forces upon our attention, is involved in the single question of the expediency, wisdom, and utility of the whole enterprise, on which it is founded. An obvious and very rational inquiry, first of all presents itself. What has been the fruit, or what may reasonably be expected to be the fruit of all these labors and sufferings; of all these privations, sacrifices, sicknesses, and deaths ?'
Facts would compel us to give an answer very different from the disparaging one which he has ventured to suggest. He adds, * As in the instance immediately before us—and the example of Mrs Judson must certainly be regarded as the fairest possible representation of all the rest—it is our deliberate conviction, that the whole enterprise was uncalled for.'
Our Saviour left with his disciples the extensive command, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. The assertion that the whole enterprise was uncalled for, has filled us with grief and deep concern. For we firmly believe that our Saviour knew best what the world needs; that he has a rightful claim to our obedience; and that, as an Apostle declares, we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
In speaking of Mrs Judson, it is remarked : 'We honor the noble zeal she exhibited in the cause of her Master, and for the salvation of her benighted fellow-creatures. We should deem it a great injustice to indulge the suspicions, and still more, to utter the calumnies, with which enterprises like hers, and, as her Memoirs intimate, her own motives, in particular, have been assailed. But we repeat it as our most serious conviction, that she bad better have remained at home.'
Admitting that missionaries should go forth to heathen nations, we can see many reasons why they should, in general, be accompanied, and cheered, and aided by their wives. Surely it would be a great injustice to the female character to insinuate that a wife is a mere incumbrance at a missionary station. Even if she could do nothing but contribute to the comfort and encouragement of her husband, it would be well for her to accompany him. But the schools of heathen children, and the heathen women whom she is specially adapted to instruct, must not be forgotten. We have not room, however, for a long argumentation on the subject; nor is it needed.
The following account of Mrs Judson's usefulness in Burmah, published at Calcutta, by an English gentleman who had been confined in prison at Ara, with her husband, is inserted in the new edition. Let any man read it; and then let him ask himself if she had better have remained at home.
“Mrs Judson was the author of those eloquent and forcible appeals to the government, which prepared them by degrees for submission to terms of peace, never expected by any, who knew the hauteur and inflexible pride of the Burman court.
* And while on this subject, the overflowings of grateful feelings, on behalf of myself and my fellow prisoners, compel me to add a tribute of public thanks to that amiable and humane female, who though living at a distance of two miles from our prison, without any means of conveyance, and very feeble in health, forgot her own comfort and infirmity, and almost every day visited us, sought out and administered to our wants, and contributed in every way to alleviate our misery.
• While we were all left by the government destitute of food, she, with unwearied perseverance, by some means or other, obtained for us a constant supply.
'When the tattered state of our clothes evinced the extremity of our distress, she was ever ready to replenish our scanty wardrobe.
When the unfeeling avarice of our keepers confined us inside, or made our feet fast in the stocks, she, like a ministering angel, never ceased her applications to the government, until she was authorized to communicate to us the grateful news of our enlargement, or of a respite from our galling oppressions.
• Besides all this, it was unquestionably owing, in a chief degree, to the repeated eloquence, and forcible appeals of Mrs Judson, that the untutored Burman was finally made willing to secure the welfare and happiness of his country, by a sincere peace.'
Other and more overwhelming considerations press upon our minds, while we think of some of the concluding remarks of the review upon which we have been animadverting. We may resume the subject at some future period : but we are almost constrained to adopt the words which our Lord used on a certain memorable occasion : If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things ?
FOR JUNE, 1829.
SUBSCRIPTIONs and donations to the General Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States, for Foreign Missions, &c. should be transmitted to Heman Lincoln, Esq. Treasurer, Boston. Persons visiting the city, to whom it may be more convenient to call at a central place, can lodge their communi. cations with E. Lincoln, No. 59 Washington-Street, who is authorized to receive moneys for the Treasurer.
SIXTH TRIENNIAL CONVENTION.
The General Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States met at Philadelphia, April 29, 1829. It was a meeting of peculiar solemnity, harmony and Christian feeling. Sensible that we can present our readers with nothing more valuable and interesting, we occupy the largest part of the present number with a detailed account of the proceedings of the Convention. The Report of the Board necessarily comprises some statements which have previously appeared in the Magazine ; but it is conceived to be important to exhibit a full and connected view of the meeting, and of the documents laid before it.
Rev. Daniel Sharp, D. D.
iliary to the Board Hon. Heman Lincoln,
of For. Missions. Nath. R. Cobb, Esq. Rev. Charles Train,
Middlesex and NorRev. Bela Jacobs,
folk Missionary Rev. William Leverett,
Worcester Co. Baptist
Charitable Society. Rev. Stephen Chapin, D. D. Boston Burman Fem. of Dist. of Columbia, Education Soc.