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It will be walking amidst live coals to travel through France, and encounter the versions of Veron, Bourdeaux, and another in 1698. Father Quesnel will lay the ingenuity of modern Romanists under hard contribution ; and the rescript of a pontiff, in assumed and vaunted approbation of the Italian version of Martini, will vanish into air at the resolute reproof of Dr. Milner, late V. A. of the Midland district, and at the stroke of a pontifical pen in the last Prohibitory Index.f The late and present activity in the dispersion of the Roman translations is too naturally assignable to shame, fear, and policy, to allow it to be put forward as any proof of the increased liberality of the Church of Rome, of any new respect for the rights of private judgment and conscience, and of any sincere desire that the mighty flock of the Universal Pastor may be made individually wise unto salvation by free and unrestricted access to the wells, where alone in its greatest attainable purity that salvation is to be found. But qualifications are required; and we would gladly know why those qualifications—humility, a prayerful dependence upon divine inspiration, openness to conviction, &c.are not to be acquired as properly and readily in and by the study of the word of God, as by any other and previous means. But there is danger. Yes, there is danger attending every good gift of our Maker--the light of heaven, our food, our reason, divine ordinances, even such supernatural gifts as were granted to the primitive church, and which we know were abused, Yes, there is danger, and danger of another kind-a danger which the church before us has created, and fears. There is danger, that a reader of no particularly vicious bias should find in the Bible little reason to believe that the Virgin Mary was predicted as the seed of the woman.
He would be in great danger from the terms of the Second Commandment, which he might suspect designated something more than a grossness of idolatry which there is no proof ever existed. He might have doubts whether our Saviour communicated to St. Peter any supremacy at all; and, if he did, whether it was to descend in any succession; and, if so descending, whether Antioch had not the better claim; and whether Jerusalem might not prefer as good a title as Rome. He might be
He might be at a loss to find in the only scripture expressly directed to Rome, St. Paul's Epistle, any marked accordance with the doctrine, after so many ages of deliberation, finally established in the Council of Trent: apprehensions would not be extravagant, that he might imagine some
* The various disclaimers of Drs. Troy and Murray really go no further.
+ See on this subject An Inquiry into some of the Doctrines of the Church of Rome, by Dr. Kenney, 1818 ; and other works; Blair's Correspondence, &c.
articles of a character opposite to accordance. In short, so little would be likely to meet him confirmatory of what stand out as the prominent features of his Church's faith, and so many stumbling-blocks would beset his whole course—the last perhaps the worst, when the virtuous matron of the seven hills rose in all her majesty in his view—that his Roman faith, however firm at first, would be staggered from head to foot, and Rome would indeed be in great peril of losing a subject-Christianity would have an equal chance of gaining one. There is in reality more of accuracy in this representation than may at first sight appear; and certain it is as any fact can be, that the only heresies under pretence of which Protestant translations are condemned, are such as have just been suggested.
From what must be considered as the mere special pleading of Romanists on their own behalf, and of course perfectly inconclusive, we now proceed to something of a direct and decisive character. The subject, it will be remembered, is, the love of the Church of Rome to the Scriptures. We say advisedly, the Church of Rome; for it will not do to adduce individual members, who may be of a very different mind from their church, and whose mind the extreme intimidation used by their church renders it impossible to ascertain. It is so even now. After the Reformation, not to advert to earlier provisions against the diffusive knowledge of the Scriptures, as discovered by placards and catalogues published by papal authority in the Netherlands, we take our starting point from the Council of Trent, convened for the professed object of exterminating heresy. In the fourth session the contents of the Scripture were determined, and the Latin Vulgate pronounced to be the only authentic representation of it, even before a correct copy was ascertainable, and many years before that desideratum was attempted to be supplied by the pontiff Sextus V.; who, notwithstanding his infallibility, and excommunication of future innovators, succeeded so ill, that a near successor, despising all, issued a new edition varying in two thousand places from his predecessors, accompanied however by a similar denunciation, and a third edition in 1598 is now the standard text. But a pope, before the close of the Council, (in 1559,) Paul IV., published an Index of Prohibited Books; which is concluded by a catalogue of more than a close printed page, or thirty copies, of prohibited Latin Bibles; at the end of which is a notice, that all vernacular Bibles, in German, French, Spanish, Italian, English, or Flemish, &c. are forbidden to be printed, read, or possessed without the license of the Inquisition. Eleven New Testaments are prohibited, with an &c. in the same way.* But the Council in its eighteenth session
* See Mendham's Literary Policy of the Church of Rome for this and the subsequent indexes. There is a curious work, which deserves provided for a new Index, which was executed and published in 1564, by authority of Pius IV. There indeed we have no formal catalogue of prohibited Bibles: it was unnecessary; for we have in its place a sweeping Rule, the celebrated Fourth, which being very accessible we do not repeat, but earnestly request the Protestant public never to forget, and never to allow itself to be imposed upon by the pretence, that a document solemnly repeated by the highest papal authority in our own time in three distinct constitutions, has lost an atom of its full and original authority. This rule in fact places every individual of the Roman communion in pain of forbidden absolution, at the mercy of his priest or confessor, as to the perusal of the Scriptures. The seventh rule of the suppressed Index of Sextus V. provides, that no vulgar translations of the Scripture shall be read without a new and special license of the apostolic see (sine nova et speciali sedis apostolicæ licentia.) In this instance too the necessity of a particular catalogue was superseded. The Spanish Indexes are still more graphically inveterate against vernacular translations, as may be seen in the Appendix to the Tridentine Index, published by authority of Philip II. 1570, pp. 80–83, and in those of 1583 and 1584.* But these and the English proscriptions, which were frequent enough against English translations, must be passed over, though proceeding from the same authority and marking the same character, in order that the mass of evidence may not overwhelm us. In the next Roman Index, the author, Clement VIII., who had put his extinguisher over both the Vulgate and the Index of his predecessor Sextus, added an explanation of the Fourth Rule of Pius's Index, which revoked the power thereby given to bishops, or inquisitors, or superiors of religious communities, of granting licenses to buy, read, or retain vernacular Bibles &c. in conformity with a mandate of the holy Roman and universal Inquisition to that effect. And so the law, as far as these documents are concerned, was repeated, and stood till the time of Benedict XIV. In the interval, however, a more formal exhibition of
notice on this subject—Censura Generalis contra Errores, quibus Heretici Sac. Scripturam asperserunt-by the Spanish Inquisition, first published at Valladolid in 1554, and afterwards at Venice in 1562. It enumerates sixty-seven Bibles, out of which it extracts the heresies which it attempts to refute. But the sensitive jealousy of scriptural truth is the point for attention.
* These are most of them expurgatory ; and where Bibles with indexes come in their way, the truths which they dare not attack in the text they expunge in the index : Rome, or the Vatican, had but half an expurgatory index, and that suppressed, though some writers talk glibly enough of the Expurgatory Index of the Vatican. In short, ignorance on the subject is rather in fashion.
anti-scriptural zeal was called forth, fraught with important information on the subject under examination. The bull Unigenitus, which must not be evaded, particularly in Ireland, is not more remarkable for its insensate fulminations against one of the most evangelic among the external members of the Roman Church, than for the evidence which it affords by several of its specific condemnations of the anti-scripturality of that church. Out of 101 propositions in the black catalogue, are condemned from the 79th to the 85th-those which affirm that Scripture is universally necessary; that it is for every body; that its obscurity is no reason for forbidding it to the laity; that the Lord's day should especially be devoted to the study of it; that it should not be prohibited to women; that to close it from Christians is the same as to close the words of Christ ; that to forbid it is to forbid the light to the children of light, and inflict upon them a sort of excommunication. The doctrine, therefore, here proclaimed in 1713 by the living, speaking, writing oracle of the Roman Church, is the reverse of the foregoing condemned propositions. Quesnel, however, suffered in company with Pascal and Fenelon-both condemned by the bigotry of their church, under the influence of which bigotry they condemned the Reformers.
The machinery of scriptural restriction, with the aid of the Inquisition and the confession-box, worked, there can be no doubt, to the satisfaction of its managers up to the time of Benedict XIV.; under whose pontificate were issued two Indexes, in the latter of which, in 1758, occurs an addition to the preceding Rules, of a somewhat relaxed character. It is appended to the Observatio of Clement VIII. on the fourth of the Tridentine Rules; and is as follows—“If versions of this Bible (the Vulgate) into the vulgar tongue are approved by the apostolic see, or are published with annotations drawn from the holy fathers of the church, or from learned or catholic men, they are allowed." This apparent indulgence, as well as a Spanish one occurring in the Indice ultimo of Madrid in 1790, is sufficiently guarded against undue application by the fact, that the original and unrepealed Rules still maintain their primitive and undiminished force. We shall soon have proof of this.
An Italian translation of the Scriptures, with notes by Antonio Martini, in twenty-three quarto volumes, was prefaced by a letter from Pius VI, dated kalends of April 1778; which, for its supposed liberality in allowing and recommending the perusal of the Scriptures, was put forth in a hand-bill announcing the publication of the Holy Bible by R. Coyne in 1810, as covering with shame the vile misrepresentations of Protestants as to the restrictions upon scriptural reading. * Dr. Milner, however, in
* See Blair's Revival of Popery, pp. 234—236.
his Inquiry into the Vulgar Opinions concerning the Irish Catholics, p. 441, calls this a pious fraud; and accuses the advertiser of having garbled and corrupted Pius's letter, suppressing “ the passages in which his Holiness enforces the Rules of the Index, and praising the work for having notes to explain difficult passages, conformably to the doctrines of the holy Fathers : in fact, it consists of twenty-three quarto volumes."* But more than this, there is a decree of the Congregation of the Index, at which Pius VII. was present, on Jan. 17, 1820, where five different editions of Martini's New Testament are pronounced as condemned ; and this condemnation is transferred to the Appendix of the Index of 1819.
We might close with these specimens of papal affection for the Scriptures in an intelligible form, had we not two or three farther proofs in reserve. The first two appeared in the shape of breves in the year 1816, the former to the Archbishop of Gnezn, the other to the Archbishop of Mohilow. They were both excited by the operations of the Bible Society: and the first, recognising and reinforcing the Rules, particularly the fourth, of the Index, pours forth the usual invectives against the freely circulated Scriptures. The other makes the same reference, and, which is to be noted, joins in denouncing the artifice used respecting the letter of Pius VI. to Martini, and in pointing out the care of the pontiff to neutralize his liberality by referring to the fourth Rule of the Index. These breves were published in the Tocsin, or Anti-biblion, by Mr. Leslie Forster, at the end of his printed Speech in 1817; and in a tardy, smuggled manner, when they could no longer be rendered suspected, by the Catholicon (Papal Periodical), vol. v. p. 167, &c. and p. 318, &c. There are yet two other important documents, illustrative of the animus of the Roman Church towards the Bible, and proceeding from the same high quarter. The first is, the Encyclical Letter of Leo XII. 1824, which recognises both the preceding breves, puts forward the authority of the fourth Rule of the Index, and declaims against biblical diffusion in high pontifical style. It was published in Dublin, with an echo from the papal hierarchy of Ireland. The other is likewise an encyclical, and by the reigning pontiff, Gregory XVI. in 1832. He, as well as his predecessor,.is shocked at the progress of anti-papal literature, and sighs for the interference and execution of the Index, not without a view to its salutary operations on heretical translations of Scripture: but he dispels his despondency by fleeing to the female idol of his church, " who destroys all heresies.”
Much confirmation might be added to the present argument
* Correspondence on Bible Society, including Letters from the Earl of Shrewsbury, &c. by Mr. Blair, 1813, pp. 34, 35.