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Scripture, and placing it in the hands of the faithful? It is but a few months ago, that, I will not say that I was shocked, or that I was scandalized; but that I was deeply grieved, to see the whole country, as it were, aroused by the trumpet of bigotry, to celebrate what was called the Jubilee of the Reformation ; and that the Jubilee was dated from what was called the first translation, or the first complete translation of the Bible into English. I was grieved, I say, in the first place, to think that any church could consider three hundred years of duration a motive of triumph. I was grieved, to think that any establishment, pretending to be based upon the Rock of Ages, and pretending to exist by the unalterable decrees of Divine Providence, professing to be based on the purest and most enduring doctrines, should think that three hundred years made a period worthy of universal rejoicing, when we see that we come down for hundreds, and that thousands of years will come, without our publicly signalizing more than our daily thanks to the Almighty. I was grieved still more, to think, that all this excitement was being created, I will not say, by falsehood, but by misapprehension; that men should have been brought together to commemorate an event as giving rise to a certain period, which had no connection with that period, and which was most unjustly connected with the very existence of that period. For, perhaps, many of you have never heard, that, long before any Protestant version of the Scriptures existed in any language of Europe, there was, not one, two, five, nor ten, but almost innumerable versions, not only in manuscript, but printed, in the short interval between the invention of printing and the rise of Protestantism, for dissemination among Catholics; and, as I know that & contrary opinion prevails, I will take the liberty of giving you a few particulars, in order that you may be upon your guard against similar deceptions.
In Germany, for instance, that author whose name I before quoted, Mr. Horne, speaks of the version of the Scriptures in German, as having begun with Luther, whose version was commenced in 1523, but was not completed till eleven years after. Now, we have, in the first place, a copy existing of a printed version, so old as not to have a date, because, you should be aware, that the very earliest books printed had no date, and no place or name upon them. In the second place, we have a German Catholic version of the Scriptures, printed by Faust, in 1470, nearly sixty years before the version of Luther; we have a third in 1467, and a fourth in 1473. I speak not of editions, but of indepen. dent versions. A fifth, at Nuremburg, in 1477, which was reprinted three times before Luther's appeared ; a sixth, in the same year, at Augsburg, of which eight editions were reprinted before Luther's; a seventh, by Coburger, a magnificent one, published at Koninseck, in 1483, and reprinted in 1488; an eighth, at Augsburg, and a new version, printed in 1518 and 1524, that is, about the time of the Reformation, about the time that Luther was going on with his ; and, down to the present time, they are almost innumerable. Now I come to other countries—to Spain. A version of the Scriptures was published in 1478, about the same period as others; that is, as soon as printing would allow the publication, and long before Luther's appeared, almost before he was born ; and there are, besides, many other versions of particular parts of Scripture. In Italy, a country most particularly under the sway of Popish bigotry, and under the dominion of the tyranny of the See of Rome, in 1471, a version of the Scriptures into Italian was published by Malermi at Venice, and this was republished seventeen times before the conclusion of the century, that is, twentythree years before Luther's appeared: another version of parts of the Scripture appeared in 1472; another, at Rome, in 1471; another, by Bruccioli, at Venice, in 1532, and a correction of it, by Marinochinus, in 1538, just two years after Luther completed his ; and every one of these editions remain, not only with the approbation of the authorities, but of the Inquisition ; approved by it, and spread as much as possible among the people. In France, as in every other country, it is precisely the same, in 1484, and 1534, and 1537 ; these, however, may be rather called histories of the Bible, than the whole of the text. Then, again, there was one at Stockholm, in 1512, consequently ten years before Luther's. A Belgic Catholic edition was begun in 1475, of which there were two editions in four years, and a third edition in 1518. A Bobemian Catholic edition appeared in 1488, and was reprinted three times before Luthers. There are Polish versions, and others, printed and published long before the time of Luther, In our own country, it is well known, that versions were made long before Tyndale's. Sir Thomas More answers the difficulty, by observing, that it is well known, that pious, learned gentlemen read the Scriptures in their own tongue long before Tyndale published his version, It may be said, it was not disseminated; it could not : first, because of the want of printing; and, secondly, on account of that wbich was connected with it, the want of the general diffusion of education.
I only mention this, just to show how unjust it is, to speak of the Reformation as having given rise to the translation of the Scriptures ; to say that Catholics, if they had not been forced to it by Protestants, would have withheld the Bible from the people.
But mark, here, what a change took place at the very period when the Scripture was diffused among the faithful. It would have continued to be so diffused had not the pernicious doctrines of which I have given you some idea—perhaps I use too strong a word, but the dangerous doctrines arose, which taught men that they were to throw aside all authority, and each man was to be a judge in religion! which you have
seen fraught with such dreadful difficulties in its application and practice. It was thought necessary to check, for a time, the general diffu. sion of Scripture. Sir Thomas More mentions the circumstance. If, he says, you will look at the origin of Protestantism, you will find, that it was not the church, and not the authorities and the pastors of the Catholic church, but it was the civil governors who first interfered, because, after John Huss and Wiclif, when the Scripture began to be read, what were the doctrines men drew from it? That the civil governor lost his authority if he contracted sin; that no man could possess worldly property in a state of sin; that, consequently, it raised the arm of the poor, it raised the arm of discontent, as fanatics against social order; therefore, it was, that the civil government thought it prudent, for their own reasons, to call in the aid of the church, that it should not only restrain, but prohibit the general diffusion of the Scriptures.
You see from this example, to what an extent the Catholic church took advantage of the invention of printing to diffuse the Scripture among the faithful ; and the zeal and the anxiety was only checked by the use that was made of it; you will allow us to say—those that differ, from us—the erroneous use, at least, made of it by the first reformers. It was checked, as I said before, as a matter of discipline, subject to all due relaxation from the pastors of the church; and, consequently, in countries where it is thought expedient, as it is in this, it is permitted, almost, I might say, universally.
This, brethren, may suffice, for the present. I bave only, as yet, kept you without; I have not brought you into the important and leading features of the question. You will observe, that, in treating of the Protestant rule of faith, I have refrained from speaking of the authority of Scripture itself upon this subject. You will observe, that I have handled it merely as a question of natural, moral, or philosophical argument; that I have simply examined the nature of the rule itself, how far it can be considered satisfactory. I have raised, I trust, such difficulties regarding it, that it must require very strong shelter under divine sanction to justify the use, under divine authority, of so compli. cated and so difficult a rule. Now, whether there is that divine authority, I have not as yet examined. I have not, as yet, touched those passages which might be brought, proving that Scripture is a complete and satisfactory rule of faith. I may enter into that discussion, though perhaps not immediately; and, I trust, I shall be able fully to satisfy you upon all the arguments that may be brought upon this subject.
Next Friday, if you will favour me with your attendance, we will enter upon a more positive portion of my theme. Having thus, as it were, in the first place, excluded, at least partially removed, the theories and the systems of others, I shall proceed, at once, to what I con
sider the true, the legitimate mode of argument on this subject ; that is, the positive demonstration of that which we believe, and I trust, that, when you see the true nature of our system, you will judge of it, as you compare it--even as I do—that is, that you will look upon the system which I have described, and of which more will have yet to be said, as something which at first appearance is exceedingly regular, orderly, and beautiful. It will strike you as a magnificent edifice as you pass along the high road on which you have only gazed from without, of which you have only taken the measure of its outward proportion ; and you judge of it by the splendid scale on which it is constructed, and by the exact uniformity of all its parts. But, if you can penetrate within it, no doubt you will expect that there will be the same beauty, and the same magnificence, and the same comfort and convenience, as it seems outwardly to demonstrate. But, when you have entered it, as I have shortly to lead you, you will discover, that it is composed of tortuous and complicated labyrinths ; of small, narrow, constrained dwellings, which give no comfort and no joy to those who are pent up therein. Then, after that, I will show you another more stately and more beautiful fabric, which you will see, immediately, has served as the prototype for those who formed the other from seeing its exterior, but have not gained the privilege of penetrating within. It will, I trust, appear, that though the dilapidating action of centuries may have in part disfigured it, yet, as you approach it, you will see signs of venerable and great antiquity; and, when we shall walk within, you shall see every part of the edifice so beautiful in the symmetry of its proportions, so perfect in the harmony of its parts, so corresponding in every respect to its great end-having all that can rejoice the heart of man, and all in it that can cheer his existence here — that I trust you will acknowledge, that though that which you before saw from without was the work of man, this which you examine inwardly shall be the work of God. But, I trust, that you will not be content with merely looking, and not be satisfied with merely taking a curious gaze at all its beauty; but that you will examine it, not by any false shining of the world, but by the distinct clear light which I shall endea. vour, as far as my feeble means allow me, to throw upon it; that, you will not only be guided by it, that you will not only look upon it; but, that you will enter; and, that all now without will go in, and dwell with the children of Christ, around the banquet of heavenly gifts, which is only to be obtained here below in the earnest of it, which I pray God to grant you all.
THE CATHOLIC RULE OF FAITH.
1 PETER 11. 15.
“ Sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts ; being also ready to satisfy
every one that asketh you a reason of that hope that is in you."
In my last discourse, my brethren, I was principally employed in the less pleasing task of examining and controverting the opinions of others. I endeavoured, with the utmost impartiality, to analyze the principle of belief adopted by those religions which reject ours; and, without any reference to express authority, by simply endeavouring to trace it to its first principles, I endeavoured to show you, that it was fraught with so many difficulties as absolutely to be rendered in practice void and nugatory; for, while it supposed, on the one side, the necessity of each individual examining for himself into the word of God, and drawing thence those doctrines which he believes, from his own conviction, and that are therein contained, on the other hand, it supposes, neces. sarily, a train of difficult, and of learned, and of almost abstruse inquiry, to which very few, comparatively, can be equal ; and thus, consequently, it produces a rule or ground-work of faith, almost of no use, if it be insisted upon, from its very foundation, or from the very first principles whence it must spring.
I come now to the more agreeable duty of explaining to you the faith wbich we hold ; and I shall endeavour to proceed precisely in the same manner as I did at our last meeting; that is to say, I will now content myself with simply giving you an outline of our belief; showing you, as I promised, the way in which the whole process of reasoning is simple and obvious : so much so, that, on the one hand, it must satisfy the most accurate and logical inquiry, and, at the same time, it is within the reach of the meanest and the most illiterate capacity. And I will endeavour, also, to point out the beautiful harmony of all its parts, and the way, the striking way, in which the adaptation of such a rule must influence, not only the whole basis of the entire demonstration, but, also, the construction of a perfect Christianity.
We are told, in the thirty-first chapter of Deuteronomy, that, when Moses had completed the words of the law, and written them in a book, so that it was finished, he gave it to the Levites, who bore the ark of the Lord, and commanded that it should be placed beside the ark of the covenant within the tabernacle, as a testimony against Israel. But this, my brethren, was not the only object which received so distinct an honour, for we learn, also, how, upon a certain occasion,