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Yet before we end, we must answer a third criticism and objection of theirs against us, for altering and amending our translation so often. Truly they deal harshly and strangely with us. For to whom was it ever imputed for a fault (by such as were wise) to go over that which he had done, and to amend it where he saw cause? Augustine was not afraid to exhort Jerome to recant. The same Augustine was not ashamed to retract, we might say, revoke, many things that he had said or written, and even glories that he sees his errors. If we will be sons of the truth, we must consider what it says, and trample upon our own ideas, yes, and upon other men’s too, if either be in any way a hindrance to it. This is the cause. Then to those persons we say, that of all men they ought to be most silent in this case because of the varieties they have, and the alterations they have made, not only in their service books, prayer books and daily recitations, but also in their Latin translation? The service book supposed to be made by Ambrose was a great while in special and exclusive use: but Pope Adrian, calling a council with the aid of Charles the Emperor, abolished it, yes, burned it, and commanded the service book of Gregory universally to be used. Well, he set aside these laws in actual use. Did it continue without change or altering? No, the very Roman service was of two kinds; the new kind, and the old, the one used in one church, and the other in another; as is to be seen in Pamelius a Romanist in his preface before Micrologus. The same Pamelius reports out of Radulphus de Rivo, that about the year of our Lord 1277 Pope Nicholas the third removed out of the churches of Rome the more ancient service books and brought into use the mass books of the Friers Minorites, and commanded them to be observed there. Then about a hundred years later, when the above named Radulphus happened to be at Rome, he found all the books to be of the new kind. Neither was this editing and changing in the more ancient times only, but also in recent times. Pius Quintus himself confesses, that almost every bishopric had a peculiar kind of service, very unlike that which others had. This moved him to abolish all other prayer books, though ever so ancient, privileged and published by Bishops in their Dioceses, and to establish and ratify for use only that which was of his own setting forth in the year 1568. Now when the Father of their Church, who gladly would heal the sore of the daughter of his people softly and slightly, and make the best of it, finds so great fault with them for their opposition and discord; we hope the children have no great desire to boast of their uniformity. The difference that appears between our translations, and our often correcting of them, is the thing that we are specially charged with. Let us see therefore whether they themselves be without fault this way, (if it be counted a fault to correct) and whether they be fit men to throw stones at us. "Those who are less sound themselves ought not to object to infirmities in others." If we should tell them that Valla, Stapulensis, Erasmus, and Vives, found fault with their common translation, and consequently wished the same to be mended, or a new one to be made; they would answer perhaps, that we produced their enemies for witnesses against them; although they were no more enemies, than was Paul to the Galatians, for telling them the truth [GAL 4:16]. It is to be wished, that they had dared to tell it to them plainer and oftener. But what will they say to this, that Pope Leo the tenth permitted the use of Erasmus’s translation of the New Testament, so much different from the Vulgate, by his apostolic letter and bull? That same Leo exhorted Pagnine to translate the whole Bible, and bore whatever charges were necessary for the work? Surely, as the Apostle reasons to the Hebrews, That if the former Law and Testament had been sufficient, there had been no need of the latter [HEB 7:11; 8:7]. So we may say, that if the old Vulgate had been at all points allowable, why go to the labor and expense about making of a new edition? If they say, it was one Pope’s private opinion, and that he consulted only himself; then we are able to go further with them, and to point out, that more of their chief men of all sorts, even their own council of Trent champions, Paiva and Vega, and their own inquisitor Hieronymus ab Oleastro, and their own Bishop Isidorus Clarius, and their own Cardinal Thomas a Vio Cajetan, either made new translations themselves, or follow new ones of other men’s making, or note the Vulgate interpreters errors, none of them fear to dissent from them, nor yet to take exception against them. And call they this a uniform text and judgment about the text, so many of their worthies disclaiming the vanity of those now defending the received text? No, we will yet come nearer to the heart of the matter. Does not their Paris edition differ from the Louvain, and Hentenius’s from them both, and yet all of them allowed by authority? No, does not Sixtus Quintus confess, that certain Catholics (he means certain of his own side) were in such an attitude in translating the Scriptures into Latin, that Satan taking advantage of them, though they thought of no such matter, did strive as he could, that out of so uncertain and numerous a variety of translations, so to confuse all things, that nothing might seem to be left certain and firm in them? No further, did not the same Sixtus ordain by an unchangeable decree, and that with the counsel and consent of his Cardinals, that the Latin edition of the Old and New Testament, which the council of Trent held to be authentic, is the same without controversy which he then set forth, being diligently corrected and printed in the printing house of the Vatican? Thus said Sixtus in his preface to his Bible! And yet Clement the eighth, his immediate successor, published another edition of the Bible, containing in it infinite differences from that of Sixtus, and many of them weighty and material; and now this must be authentic by all means! What is it to have the faith of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with yes and no, if this be not it? Again, what is sweet harmony and consent, if this be it? Therefore, as Demaratus of Corinth advised a great King, before he talked of the dissensions among the Greeks, to settle his own domestic quarrels (for at that time his queen and his son and heir were in a deadly feud with him). So while our adversaries make so many and various editions themselves, and contend so much about the worth and authority of them, they can with no show of honesty challenge us for making changes and corrections in our translation.

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This Page Last Updated: 06/25/05 A. Allison Lewis