CHAPTER VIII.
HOW THE MAJESTY OF THE SCRIPTURES HAS BEEN VIOLATED IN THE INTERPRETATIONS AND VERSIONS OF THE HERETICS

SHALL I say further this word? Your fine church has not contented itself with cutting off from the Scripture entire books, chapters, sentences and words, but what it has not dared to cut off altogether it has corrupted and violated by its translations. In order that the sectaries of this age may altogether pervert this first and most holy rule of our faith, they have not been satisfied with shortening it or with getting rid of so many beautiful parts, but they have turned and turned it about, each one as he chose, and instead of adjusting their ideas by this rule they have adopted it to the square of their own greater or less sufficiency. The Church had universally received (more than a thousand years ago) the Latin version which the Catholic Church proposes; S. Jerome, that most learned man, was the author, or corrector of it; when, our age, behold arise a thick mist created by the spirit of giddiness,(Isa. xix. 14) which has so led astray these refurbishers of old opinions formerly current, that everybody has wanted to drag, one to this side, one to that, and always according to the inclination of his own judgment, this holy and sacred Scripture of God. Herein who sees not the profanation of this sacred vase of the holy letter, in which was preserved the precious balm of the Evangelical doctrine? For would it not have been a profanation of the Ark of the Covenant to maintain that everybody might seize it, carry it home, take it all to pieces, and then give it what form he liked provided that it had some semblance of an ark? And what but this is it to maintain that one may take the Scriptures and turn and adjust them according to one’s own sense? And in just the same way, as soon as we are assured that the ordinary edition of the church is so out of shape that it must be built up again new, and that a private man is to set his hand to it and begin the process, the door is open to presumption. For if Luther dares to do it, why not Erasmus? And if Erasmus, why not Calvin or Melancthon, why not Henricus Mercerus, Sebastian Castalio, Beza, and the rest of the world, provided that they know some verses of Pindar and four or five words of Hebrew, and have close by some good Thesaurus of the one or other language? And how can so many translations be made by brains so different, without the complete overthrow of the sincerity of the Scripture? What say you? that the ordinary version is corrupt? We allow that transcribers and printers have let certain ambiguities of very slight importance slip in (if, however, anything in the Scripture can be called of slight importance). The Council of Trent commanded that these should be taken out, and that for the future care should be taken to print as correctly as possible. For the rest, there is nothing in it which is not most conformable to the meaning of the Holy Spirit who is its author, as has been shown by so many learned men of our Church, (Genebrard in prcef. Psalt.; Titelman, Toletus, in apol. Bellarminus et a1ii.) opposing the presumption of these new reformers of religion, that it would be losing time to try to speak more of it; besides that it would be folly in me to wish to speak of the correctness of translations, who never well knew how to read with the points in one of the languages necessary for this knowledge, and am hardly more learned in the other. But how have you improved matters? Everybody has held to his own views, everybody has despised his neighbour’s; they have turned it about as they liked, but no one speaks of his comrade’s version. What is this but to overthrow the majesty of the Scripture, and to bring it into contempt with the people, who think that this diversity of editions comes rather from the uncertainty of the Scriptures than from the variety of the translators, a variety which alone ought to put us in assurance concerning the ancient translation, which, as the Council says, the Church has so long, so constantly, and so unanimously approved.

An example or two will suffice. In the Acts (ii. 27.), where there is: Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell (animam in inferno), they make it: Thou shalt not leave my corpse in the tomb (Cadaver in sepulchro). Whoever saw such versions ? Instead of soul (and it is Our Lord who is spoken of) to say carrion, and instead of hell to say sepulchre! Peter Martyr (in def. de Euch. p. 3a, p. 392) cites I Cor. x. 3, and they all eat the same spiritual food as we (nobiscum) he inserts this nobiscum to prove his point. I have seen in several bibles in this country a very subtle falsehood, in the mysterious words of the institution of the most Holy Sacrament: instead of hoc est corpus meum, cecy est mon corps: they had put: c’est cy mon corps. (Here is my body, instead of this is my body). Who does not perceive the deceit?

You see something then of the violence and profanation your ministers do and offer to the Scriptures what think you of their ways? What will become of us if everybody takes leave, as soon as he knows two words of Greek, and the letters in Hebrew, thus to turn everything topsy turvy ? I have therefore shown you what I promised, that this first rule of our faith has been and still is most sadly violated in your pretended church; and that you may know it to be a property of heresy thus to dismember the Scriptures, I will close this part of my subject with what Tertullian says, (de Proescr. xvii) speaking of the sects of his time. “This heresy “ [of the Gnostics] says he “does not receive some of the Scriptures ; and if it receives -some it does not receive them whole…and what receives in a certain sense whole it still perverts, devising various interpretations.”