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habit of making very great allowances for the various idiomatic and grammatical errors into which a foreigner is so liable to run : this may in great measure be accounted for by their local peculiarities, which lead them to hold much intercourse with strangers, and thereby to become familiarized with great and numerous mistakes in language.
In addition to the principle of philanthropy above advocated, the imperfectly executed version is entitled to preservation on a ground formerly enlarged upon; namely, that a near approach to perfection is not in the first instance to be expected or required, and that such translation will constitute the basis of subsequent emendations, and ultimately issue in a fully approved version of the word of God.
I have now only to add, that I have been among the poor and benighted Hindoos, and beheld and wept over their woes; there is a light beginning to shine upon them in the midst of their darkness; and I would anxiously inquire, Shall this light be extinguished? Shall the Abbé's design be accomplished, and the word of God banished from these poor deluded idolaters for ever ?—That word, which is able to turn them away from dumb idols to the living God; which is able to make them happy in this world, and blessed for ever in the world to come? I cannot bear the thought; and I trust every one, who may peruse these pages, will give his vote in unison with my own, and say, Let every attempt to suppress the Sacred Scriptures in India be vigorously opposed, and “let the word of God have free course and be glorified,” throughout all the tribes of Hindostan.
Consideration of the Author's objection to the Indian
Versions of the Sacred Scriptures, on the supposed ground of their not having effected the Conversion of any of the Hindoos.
THERE is only one more point to be considered, in reference to the circulation of the Holy Scriptures in India, and that is, the Abbé's insinuation to the discredit of the Indian versions, on the ground of their having wrought no conversions. This objection the Abbé brings forward in the follow
1 ing words : “Behold the Baptist missionaries at Serampore! Inquire what are their spiritual successes on the shores of the Ganges? Ask them whether they have really the well-founded hope, that their indefatigable labours, in endeavouring to get the Holy Scriptures translated into all the idioms of India, will increase their successes? Ask them whether those extremely incorrect versions, already obtained at an immense expense, have produced the sincere conversion of
a single pagan? And I am persuaded, that if they are asked an answer upon their honour and conscience, they will all reply in the negative.” (p. 26.)
I would say in reply, Let us try the experiment—let us ask Mr. Ward, who, though dead, yet speaketh to us in his Farewell Letters. The words of this highly esteemed and justly lamented labourer, in the Indian field of missions, are as follows: “ In Bengal, where the Scriptures have been most read, a considerable portion of knowledge on Christian subjects is found, and much respect for the Bible manifested. It is also a pleasing consideration, that from the perusul of the New Testament alone, several very interesting conversions have taken place. A number of years ago, I left a New Testament at Ram
ishnu-Poor, after preaching in the market-place. From the perusal of this book is to be traced the conversion of Sebukram, now an excellent and successful preacher; of Krishundass, who died happily in his work as a bold and zealous preacher; of Juggunath, and one or two other individuals. Mr. Chamberlain, some years ago, left a New Testament in a village ; and by reading this book, a very respectable young man of the writer caste, Tarachund, and his brother Muthoor, embraced the gospel. Of the first, some notice is taken in the preceding letter, and
the latter is employed as Persian interpreter in the Dutch court of justice at Chinsurah.
“ I have seen the New Testament lying by the sick bed of the Christian Hindoo as his best cornpanion; and the truths it contains have been the comfort of the afflicted, and the source of strong consolation and firm hope in death to many a dying Hindoo."*
The author's disparagement of the Indian translations of the Sacred Scriptures, on the ground of their having effected no conversions, is thus effectually removed; and an answer is returned to the question he proposed to Serampore, entirely ruinous of his argument.
It seems proper further to intimate, that the utility of the translations of the Sacred Scriptures is not to be estimated by the mere criterion of their effecting actual conversions ;--they are of great value as tending to the general diffusion of important truth, and to the removal of darkness from the minds of the pagans, in a manner calculated to pave the way for conversions. .
I will state an instance illustrative of the importance of the Indian versions, on the grounds last mentioned. Whilst I was living at Chinsurah, the missionaries there were desirous of introducing the Scriptures into a school of
* Ward's Farewell Letters, pp. 185-6.