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this time have come to an understanding, how far they were agreed in it instead of being, as they now are, totally at sea; not knowing in what respects they see alike, and in what respects they differ; but many of them actually in ignorance as to the points of difference: which is perhaps the greatest removal from final agreement that can be conceived. Now, men and brethren, is this right? Ought such a sacrifice for peace really to be required? Is it worthy of the manly simplicity of the Christian character? Is peace really gained? Is it not rather secret dissatisfaction under the disguise of peace, and to the exclusion of that peace which is from above? Is it any thing more than a concession to the ignorance of those, who would suppress a topic on which they have nothing to say? Is it not, after all, demanding, what in the one party it is wrong to ask, and in the other party wrong to grant? True: the servants of the Lord are not to strive. But, if they are forbidden to state and compare their sentiments and principles, they are not to hold communication and with smiles upon their faces, and peace upon their lips, they may soon be seen gradually receding from each other; which, in fact, is what has begun to take place. Far better to go to the bottom of our differences, shake hands, and so, be friends.
THE DUTCH VERSION OF THE BIBLE.
Bijbel, Bevattende Alle de Boeken des Ouden en Nieuwen Verbonds, uitgegeven door J. H. VAN DER PALM.
New Edition of the Dutch Bible, by Professor VAN DER PALM: in six Parts, large 4to. Leyden, 1818-1825.
THERE is no work which can be undertaken by man which is more important, or which should be begun and continued in a more solemn, prayerful, and dependent spirit, than the Translation of the Bible. When we first thought of noticing the work before us, we seemed to have so much to say, that in a moderate space of time we could have filled many pages. But when we came to take pen in hand, we felt so deeply the weight and difficulty of what we had undertaken, that we paused and trembled: we felt that we had need of peculiar help and direction from above, before we could
Presume to lay our hands upon the ark
and again and again we sought it with earnest prayer. For every thing connected with the translation of the Bible partakes
of the solemn nature and importance of the work itself, and ought to be approached with reverence and godly fear. And when we perceive and lament that others have touched the Sacred Volume with hands presumptuous and profane, we are warned to exercise, on our part, a tenfold caution and watchfulness; that whatever we say on the subject may be in a right spirit, and tend to impress ourselves and others more deeply than ever with reverence for God's word.
The book before us is not professedly a new translation: it is rather intended to pass for a revision and correction of the old Dutch translation-commonly called that of the StatesGeneral, because it was made and published under their approbation, and at their expense, as a national work ;—but the alterations, not only in spelling, but in style, and often in respect of the sense and meaning, are so great, that a plain Dutchman, hearing it read, would not recognise the old-fashioned Bible to which he had been accustomed, but be apt to conclude, in his simplicity, that he was hearing another book. It is therefore, to all intents and purposes, a new translation, adapted (as the learned Professor expresses it in his prefatory letter, addressed to the General Synod of the Reformed churches in Nederland) to the wants and the illumination of our times.
A new translation of the Bible! We must confess that we never hear of such new translations without a considerable degree of apprehension and suspicion. Certainly, the first thing we shall deem necessary is, to inquire a little concerning the old, which has been in use for nearly two hundred years. And we rejoice much that we are enabled to give some accurate information respecting the history of the authorized Dutch version, which will be both new and interesting to our readers. We take our account principally from the "Historie van de Nederlansche Overzettinge des Bybels, door Nicolaes Hinlopen,” published at Leyden in 1777.
So soon as the Gospel is introduced into a country, one of that country's first and greatest wants must be a translation of the Bible into the vernacular tongue. Hence all the ancient versions of the Scriptures, which are in many respects so interesting and important to the Biblical student even to this day, but which must have been invaluable in the countries and times in which they were made. So also, when the light of the glorious Reformation dawned upon any of the countries of Europe, immediately a new version of the Scriptures was demanded; and this was one of the great works to which the Reformers speedily devoted themselves. Wickliffe in our own country, and Luther in Germany, alike felt the vast importance of having
the Scriptures made accessible to all who could read or hear, by a translation into the vernacular tongue. It was to be expected that the first attempts at such an arduous work would be very imperfect. But God, we are persuaded, directed and overruled, owned and blessed them; and those countries were more especially blessed of Him, in which the first rude versions served to prepare the way for more accurate and finished translations of the Sacred Word, and this under sanction of the highest authorities both in church and state. This was the case in England and Holland. It was perhaps, in the end, unfortunate for Germany that Luther's translation called less for the labour of succeeding scholars, and was better calculated to meet the immediate wants of his Christian countrymen, than any other of the versions which were made at that period.
In England we had to wait much longer for a standard version: but we have experienced in this, what Christians continually experience in respect of spiritual things and the concerns of the soul, that the longer we are compelled to wait for a blessing the greater it is when it comes. The Dutch churches had experience somewhat similar to our own. Their first version was but a bad translation of Luther's Bible, made (as it seems) by an elder of the Reformed church at Embden, about the middle of the sixteenth century. But this was so incorrect, that as early as the year 1571 the Dutch exiles at Cologne requested the synod of Embden to take into consideration the propriety of a new translation. This proposal was renewed in the provincial synod at Dordrecht in 1574; and in the national synod, held in the same city in 1578, the matter was more accurately considered. From that time it seems to have been a matter of very serious deliberation in all the synods of the Dutch churches, for a long series of years; and many and various plans were proposed; but the unsettled state of the country, then engaged in a struggle for its very existence, prevented any of them from being carried into effect.
Amongst other plans, it was proposed to Philip van St. Aldegonde that he should undertake this important work. This remarkable man, in addition to his high rank and eminent station, and abilities as a politician (for he was the bosom friend and counsellor of William I. Prince of Orange), appears to have been a real Christian, deeply interested in the welfare of the church. He was also a profound scholar, both in Greek and Hebrew; an elegant writer, and a poet; and perfect master of his native language; and was understood to have commenced a new translation of the Scriptures for his personal edification and delight. This circumstance, and the union of so many rare
qualities, recommended him to the national synod, held at the Hague in 1586, as the fittest person to undertake this work. He was requested to do so, and to send his MSS., as he proceeded, to the ministers of the churches in the different provinces for revision; that the translation, thus revised and approved, might be considered the work of the whole church. St. Aldegonde, however, being at that time overwhelmed with public business, could not undertake so great a work: but he seems to have been so marked by the Dutch churches as the fit man for it, that in 1596 the request was repeated, and all arrangements were made, both for the translation and revision. He appears to have applied himself in good earnest to the work: but his death, at the end of 1598, cut it short: nor was any thing effectually done till the meeting of the famous Synod of Dordrecht, in 1618, though the Dutch churches never ceased to keep this important object in view.
But when this celebrated assembly-for which the Dutch churches had long been sighing, and praying, we doubt not, with groanings that could not be uttered-was at length gathered together; and the foreign divines, who had been invited from various countries on that solemn occasion, were present to assist those of the Seven Provinces with their counsel; this important business was not only discussed, but finally arranged. In the interval between the summoning of the Remonstrants and their appearance before the synod, the president, Bogerman, in the sixth session (19th Nov. 1618), after solemn prayers, proposed to the synod these three questions for consideration and decision:
1. Whether it was necessary, and for the benefit of the church, that a new translation of the Bible into Dutch should be made?
2. In what manner, in order to the profit and edification of the churches, this could most suitably be done?
3. To how many, and to whom, this work should be committed, in the common name of the Dutch churches? (Acta Synodi, p. 19.)
In the next session, the British divines, in reference to the second question, delivered in writing an exact account of the manner of making our English version (of which the great accuracy had been commended on the day preceding); and the deputies of the Dutch churches, with the professors in the universities of the United Provinces, declared at large their opinion of the necessity of the translation, and the manner in which it should be made. As to the necessity of the work they
were unanimous. And the following rules were adopted, and presented to the translators for their direction.
1. That they should adhere religiously to the original text, and solicitously retain the very phrases of the original tongues, so far as perspicuity and the idiom of the Dutch language permitted. But if there occurred anywhere an Hebraism or Hellenism, more harsh than could be preserved in the text, it should be diligently noted in the margin.
2. That in supplying ellipses, when the sense actually required it, they should use as few words as possible, and express those in the text by a different character, and included in brackets, that they might be distinguished from the text itself.
3. That they should prefix to every book and chapter short and accurate summaries of the contents; and every where note in the margin the parallel passages in the sacred Scriptures.
4. That they should adjoin some brief scholia, in which the reason of the version adopted should be given, in more obscure places but that to add any doctrinal observations was neither necessary nor advisable. (Acta Synodi, p. 21.)
Various questions relating to the translation were discussed in the subsequent sittings, till the thirteenth (that of Nov. 26), when the translators were chosen by the votes of the Dutch members of the synod, three for the Old Testament and three for the New; as also the revisers and examiners, eight for the Old and eight for the New-i. e. one from each of the provincial synods (North and South Holland having distinct synods, though in political matters the province counted but as one). There was also a provision made for supplying vacancies in case of death and it was settled, that, when the translation was completed, the translators and revisers should meet, and carefully examine the whole work, consult together about those points on which there might be difficulty or hesitation, and come to a final decision respecting them. And, for the convenience of reference to the professors and the public libraries, it was agreed that the translators should all take up their abode in one of the universities, and relinquish all other employments, so long as they were engaged in the translation. The StatesGeneral were also requested to take upon them the whole expense of this important work.
And now one would have supposed that the difficulties were all removed, and that the translation would proceed without delay. But so great a work must needs be done in God's own time, and by instruments of his appointment. The renewal of the war with Spain, which naturally engaged the attention and