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undergo the ceremonies of purification, in order to cleanse himself of the stain which he would conceive he had contracted, in merely perusing the book in which those details were contained.
Experience, which is often but another name for common sense, teaches, that it is absolutely necessary to prepare the minds of Pagans by a suitable course of instruction, before they should be allowed the unrestrained use of the Bible. No physician would think of curing diseased eyes by exposing them to the full blaze of the sun. No mother would give her child solid food, while its organs of digestion were unfit for any species of nourishment except her own delicate milk.
A striking instance of the necessity which exists for oral instruction, as well as the circulation of the Bible in India, is related by M. Dubois, one of the French Missionaries at Meissour.
• While I was at Carical,' says that respectable and able ecclesiastic, 'I preached one Sunday to a considerable congregation, a sermon in the Tamoul language, upon the divine origin of the christian religion. Amongst other reasons which I advanced, I mentioned the intrinsic weakness of the means which were employed in the establishment of this religion, hated and persecuted as it was on all sides, wholly destitute of human assistance, and left to its own resources in the midst of all sorts of opposition. I frequently reminded my audience, that the christian religion was founded by a poor peasant of Galilee, the son of an humble carpenter, who chose as his assistants, twelve persons of the lowest extraction, twelve ignorant, unlettered fishermen. These words, the son of a carpenter, and twelve fishermen,—which were often repeated, offended the ears of the whole congregation, composed exclusively of Indian christians; and my sermon was no sooner finished, than three or four of the principal individuals came up to me in a very bad humour, and said that every body was scandalized on hearing me speak of Christ as the son of a carpenter, and of his apostles as fishermen ; that I could not have been ignorant, that the two tribes of carpenters and fishermen were, of all others, the meanest and most despised in the country; that it was not decent to attribute to the Divine Author of our religion, and to his Apostles, so abject an origin; that if the pagans, who sometimes attended their religious assemblies through motives of curiosity, had happened to have been present, the words "carpenter" and "fishermen," would certainly have scandalized them, and confirmed them in those feelings of hatred and contempt for our religion, which they already entertained. In conclusion, they advised me, if I should ever again preach on the same subject, to be particularly careful to say, that both the Redeemer and his Apostles belonged to the tribe of kings; and by no means to allude to the degraded employments by which they earned their bread.'-Annales de l'Association, &c.-pp. 142, 143.
We, who have been educated in the Christian system from our infancy, easily feel all the force and beauty of truth, as it is revealed to us in the scriptures, and thus, by a palpable, though not altogether an unnatural miscalculation, our societies conclude that they will produce a similar effect upon the minds of all other men, though presented to them for the first time, and without any preparation
upon their part, equivalent to that which we ourselves had undergone. Such a proceeding as this is exceedingly absurd, and must ever be ineffectual for the accomplishment of the purpose at which it aims. Our Missionaries begin exactly at the point at which they ought to end. They raise the building before they lay the foundation. A savage might as well be required to erect a Grecian or a Gothic cathedral, before he knows the use of the hatchet or the saw, as to comprehend the Bible, without being before hand properly instructed in the doctrine which it inculcates. There are many examples of Christians, who are accustomed to read and interpret the scriptures, changing from one sect to another, but none can be found of a single pagan being converted to any christian sect, by the unassisted process of reading the sacred writings. The primitive christians were not so converted. If the Bible were chiefly intended by its Great Inspirer for such an object as this, would He have permitted more than fourteen hundred years to elapse, before copies of it could have been sufficiently multiplied, by the invention of printing? That it is the main pillar of our faith, no christian would think of disputing; that it is a book to be venerated, to be dwelt upon again and again, to be appealed to with success in adversity and sorrow, to be looked upon as our guiding star through the wilderness of this world, every person must acknowledge, who is capable of rightly understanding its sublime revelations, and its tremendous admonitions. But to commence the work of converting the pagan tribes of our fellow men, by placing in their hands translations of this book, without, at the same time, introducing those translations with an appropriate course of instruction, is the acme of human folly, and the source of infinite, though clearly unintended mischief.
The French Missionaries, when they find their catechumens capable of reading at all, which is very far from being universally the case, place in their hands small catechisms, of from ten to twelve pages each, in which the leading truths of religion are explained in language of the utmost clearness and simplicity. These truths are, moreover, frequently made the subject of lectures and of sermons, and of every species of oral instruction. Nevertheless, it is found, that in a congregation of eight or ten thousand Indian Christians, a great majority do not perfectly comprehend even these smalĺ catechisms! If this be so, of which there is no doubt whatever, we put it to any man not thoroughly blinded by prejudice, whether it is reasonable to expect, that the untutored native of Ceylon or Canara, of Guntoor or Baramahl, shall be able rightly to interpret the epistles of Paul, the Apocalypse of John, or even the Psalms of David, the moment they are offered to his attention? Even if he should perform such a prodigy, can he possibly, by the mere power of his own intellect, derive from the scriptures a series of rules, which shall form for his government a uniform, unchangeable system of christian faith? No person in his senses would venture
to answer this question in the affirmative, and yet it is upon the supposition that the question can be so answered, and truly too, that our Bible and Missionary Societies spend hundreds of thousands, in sending out Bibles and Bible circulators, to the people of India! The enterprising clergyman, whose name we have already introduced, M. Dubois, mentions an amusing anecdote, which strongly illustrates our argument.
'Being,' says this gentleman, in a neighbouring village, (his letter is dated from Bombay,) three or four months ago, I received a visit from some Christians who lived in a village called Yalariou, in the district of Bellary, where thirty or forty Telinga christians resided. After the usual compliments of salutation had passed between us, one of them took a book out of a little bag, and without uttering a single word, placed it at my feet. On opening it, I saw that it was a translation into the Telinga dialect of the Gospel of St. Matthew. Before saying any thing on the subject, I wished to know what impression the work itself had made upon my visitors, and after I had asked some questions with that view, the person who had given me the book, related the following curious story. Some months ago, said he, two christians belonging to our village, went upon business to Bellary, and learning that a gourou, or European Missionary, (he was a Protestant Minister,) was sojourning there, they paid him a visit. He received them very politely, and after a long conversation, principally on matters of religion, he presented them with the book in question, earnestly recommending them to read a chapter of it every Sunday in the church, before the assembled congregation. As there were not amongst us more than five or six persons who knew how to read, on their return from Bellary, they sought out these persons, and gave them the volume to interpret. The readers met together in order to peruse it, and to discover of what it treated, but they were unable to understand the meaning of even a single chapter. In their embarrassment they solicited assistance from some pagans who lived in the same village, and who knew how to read, but not one of them could comprehend the mysterious book. The people at length began to think that the gourou stranger had sent it only for the purpose of mocking them, and under this persuasion, some were for throwing it into the fire: but the majority being anxious to learn the subject of the book at least, applied to an astrologer who lived in the neighbourhood, and who, after running over one or two pages in their presence, told them that it was apparently an interesting work, but that it was written in a style so negligent, so incoherent and obscure, that it would take him some days in order to make himself master of its contents. He then sent them away, telling them the time at which they were to return. When the christians saw him again, the astrologer gave them an answer to this effect:-I have read, from the beginning to the end, the book which you put into my hands. I have read it with attention, and I can inform you, that it is neither more nor less than a treatise on magic! It is composed in a loose and often in an obscure style, altogether unintelligible to soudras, (the uninitiated), as usually is the case with writings which treat of the occult and mischievous sciences. The astrologer concluded with strenuously recommending them to destroy the book, assuring them that it was a heinous sin to keep in their possession so pernicious a work.
Such is the account which these poor people gave me concerning the Gospel of St. Matthew. The fact is, that the astrologer could not understand the book; but as he did not like to acknowledge his ignorance before the soudras, he thought they would content themselves with this bungling explanation. The anecdote furnishes some idea of the value and utility of those versions of the Bible, which are so prodigally distributed throughout India.' Annales, &c.—pp. 150-152.
The Bible Society had at one time a translation made of the Scriptures, into what was called the Kun-kan, a language supposed to have been the sister of the Sanscrit, and the mother of several dialects. The work cost about 15001. A Missionary of the name of Bardwell, who was charged with the proper circulation of this version, proceeded to the districts which were indicated to him, but after exploring the whole country from Bombay to Goa, he was unable to make out the slightest trace of Kun-kan. He was instructed again to examine the region with more care; accordingly, he travelled back from Goa to Bombay, and after much labour, succeeded in discovering that the Kun-kan was a kind of jargon, a patois, which is reducible to no rules, and which has never been written! Would it not have been infinitely better if those 15007. had been given to an hospital?
The vulgate was the only version of the scriptures in use in this country at the time of the reformation. Our first reformers conceived that they found in it a great many errors, and, in consequence, the Bible was translated into English in the reign of Edward VI. But this version turned out to be so erroneous on essential points, that it was necessarily put aside, and a second version was made in the reign of Elizabeth. This translation soon appeared to be quite as defective as the former, and a third was undertaken in the time of James I., which is known to be the only one now used by the church of England. It was executed with great care, and in order to render it as accurate as possible, several of the most learned men in the kingdom, and elsewhere, were employed upon it during a period of sixteen years. We need hardly observe, that even this translation is far from being unobjectionable, and that enlightened critics, without any disposition to be captious, have suggested, nevertheless, alterations in the text, many of which would be decided improvements. But if, after the labour of so many able scholars, and after the experience of three successive attempts, a translation, manifestly incorrect in many respects, be the result of so much knowledge, skill, and attention, what apology can be offered for the presumption of six or seven individuals, who, unassisted by criticism, believed themselves capable of translating the same difficult book into nearly one hundred and fifty foreign languages and dialects, with which they must have been most imperfectly acquainted? The man who is competent to make a good version of any work, must be master of at least two languages; that in which he writes, and that which he translates. But who
are, or have been, the six or seven Europeans who could boast of a thorough knowledge of the languages of India? Where are the Indians to be found who could truly say, that they were familiar with the languages of Europe?
We are indebted to M. Dubois for some specimens of the manner in which the Bible has been translated for the people of India, under the superintendance of our societies. We shall confine ourselves to a few passages from the first chapter of Genesis, as it has been rendered into Canara, one of the dialects most prevalent in the Indian Peninsula. We shall first give the verses from the English Bible, and then a literal translation from that with which our biblical scholars have enriched the Canara idiom.
1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.'
1. In the beginning God created the earth and the air.'
The translator, instead of the word paraloca, which signifies heaven, uses the term acassa, which means only the air, so that the poor native Indian, when he should come to read of heaven, would be quite at a loss to know by whom it was created.
2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.'
2. Meanwhile the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the water, but the soul of God wandered (or ran) with delight over the water.'
The Canara expression, deverathna, literally means the soul of God, and differs from the spirit of Scripture. To a person unacquainted with the style of Holy Writ, such an expression must present the idea of a corporeal being composed of body and soul. It would be superfluous to observe how shockingly the awful sublimity of the original is caricatured by the Canara version.
3. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.'
3. God then said, Let brightness be made; and brightness was made.'
4. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from darkness.'
4. God seeing that the brightness was good, he separated the brightness from the obscurity.'