« הקודםהמשך »
turn away, as from an image of stone or wood. In itself it is imperfect--as a record incomplete-as an independent rule of faith of no authority,
It is not to disturb the feelings of any one, who has placed his faith in the Bible, nor is it to call in question either the truth or the excel. lency of many of the sentiments contained in it, that I thus write; but to declare the sincere convictions of my own heart, that it is not a certain immovable touchstone of Truth, but an 66 unsteadfast standard which men pluck to pieces as they please, and make meanings of, to suit their own purposes.” If we consider that the Bible has gone through thousands of different versions; that every nation have agreed in the necessity of making comments to illustrate its doctrines; that they were sometimes interlined, and sometimes mingled with the text ; we can readily perceive, why fiftyfour translators were deemed necessary, to produce our present version. The rules which king James gave them, “ to be most carefully observed” in their work, carry the idea of imperfections with them; “ that the Bishop's Bible be followed and as little altered as the original will permit, the old ecclesiastical words to be kept, as the word church not to be trans
lated congregation, &c. that in cases of doubt, the differences to be compounded."
Dr. Clarke, the most erudite commentator of the present day, after speaking of the general correctness of the translation, says, he had found it necessary to re-examine all the Italics, or words not in the original, but put in to accommodate the idioms of the Greek and Hebrew to the English ; in these, he says, “I found gross corruptions, particularly where they have been changed for Roman characters, whereby words have been attributed to God which he never spoke,
It is incomplete as a record, not only because its chronology is confessedly defective, but that a number of books referred to in the text, are altogether wanting. But though ample materials are at hand, by which I could much more fully illustrate its many inaccuracies, yet I forbear. It would indeed be a far more pleasing task, to point to the excellency of the maxims which it contains, and leave its faults: but while there are so many disposed to treat it as a test of faith and practice; and others to call it the word of God, it has appeared right for me to say enough clearly to draw this conclusion, that a thing so imperfect cannot be a rule for the Faith of any man; and it will also follow,
that there must be some other standard of truth, by which the conduct of the lives of accountable creatures is to be regulated, or else there is no standard at all; an alternative which no feeling mind will be willing to adopt; and this standard can be no other than the Light of Truth shining in the soul of each individual, and to which alone each is accountable.
John Hunter who was domesticated among the Indians, and possessed an opportunity of knowing them fully; gives them a character for integrity and virtue, far better than that of the white man.
We have never heard of their be. ing divided in sects, or persecuting each other for the formula of religion--they have no out. ward test of faith, yet he says they daily pay their adorations to the Great Spirit. The case with Christians is totally different--they have an outward test of faith--are divided into innu. merable sects and parties—and employ a considerable part of their lives in establishing their own forms, and finding fault with other men; and with many of them, worship is supposed to be located in houses made of wood and stone! and all this appears to have taken its origin from an abuse of that book which we call the Bible. From it, contentions have arisen, not only between different societies, but among
members of the same society; which have often ended in the most violent animosities and bloodshed-man has been arrayed against his fellowman, and the loss of thousands of lives, have evidenced the falsity of a religion founded upon an outward test.
The most extravagant interpretations of scripture, are supported by plausible arguments; and each votary of the Bible, assuming the idea that each and every part of it is true, feels himself bound as far as he can do it, to reconcile the most contradictory passages, often by the violation of truth itself.
The Bible is the standard, and every thing is to be brought to its tribunal to be judged; nay even those passages on the meaning of which men cannot agree, are forced from their trụe, real and spiritual meaning, and made the basis of the creeds and ceremonies which are established among those called Christians; so that probably there is no one of all the various sects, but what has received as a certain and invariable standard of doctrine some one, or more of them, to the interpretation of which no other sect will agree; and which are felt by every feeling, pious mind, to be at variance with the principle of vital religion. The case is the
same in other countries. The sacred books of the Hindoos, which lay claim to the greatest an. tiquity, have been the cause of great diversities of views; and the Hindoos, and the believers in the Koran, are each divided into numerous sects as well as Christians; and all show their authority for their respective practices.
The books of the Veda, “as expressly recognize but one supreme intelligence as our scriptures, to whom alone all are accountable." Yet from an abuse of their sentiments, as is stated in a work translated from the Bengalese,* and lately printed in Caicutta, has been derived the practice of burning widows on the funeral pile of their deceased husbands; and Rammohun Royt expressly says, that the worship of Idols in Hindostan, is derived from the allegorical passages in the Hindoo Scriptures.
The abuse of the scriptures in Christian coun. tries, as they are called, is equally apparent; if it suits men toset up a visible head of the churchto ordain and pay men to preach and to pray for them to establish inquisitions and religi. ous synods, to exercise a power over the consciences of their fellow creatures ;-to reconcile the most deadly forms, nay even to administer
* See Conference on burning Widows. ..f Defence of the Monotheistical System of the Hindoos..