Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33

Our English Bible.


Excerpted from:

VOL. II.         DECEMBER, 1878.         No. 8.

In the Sept. No. of the Associate Presbyterian [Magazine] we find the statement—an alarming one, if true,—that in the west a "minister of the United Presbyterian Church boldly avows, and stoutly maintains, that the English Bible is not a faithful translation, so as to be an infallible guide in matters of faith and practice!" If it be true that this impious charge against our version was made, it is but another illustration of the adage, "The blind are often bold enough." The truth of the statement would seem to receive confirmation from the ignorant charges by many against the authorized version of the "Book of Psalms;" and the presumptuous attempt of the United Presbyterian {247} Church to supplant it by what they fondly and falsely call a "New Version."

If this charge of the U.P. minister were true, it would follow, that the whole Christian Church since the time of the apostles, is utterly destitute of a warrant for saving faith; since no translation of the Bible by uninspired men is absolutely faultless! To "stop the mouths of such as subvert whole houses; and put to silence the ignorance of foolish men," we give some testimony of competent witnesses to the superiority of the English, over all other translations of the Sacred Scriptures.

1. John Selden, a contemporary of the translators, and a most eminent scholar, says, "The English translation of the Bible is the best in the world, and renders the sense of the original best, taking in for the English translation the Bishops’ Bible as well as King James’s. The translators in King James’s time took an excellent way. That part of the Bible was given to him who most excelled in such a tongue; as the Apocrypha to Andrew Downs; and then they met together, and one read the translation, the rest holding in their hands some Bible, either of the learned tongues, or French, Spanish, Italian, &c. If they found any fault, they spoke; if not, he read on. There is no book so translated as the Bible for the purpose. It is rather translated into English words than into English phrase. The Hebraisms are kept, and the phrase of that language is kept."

2. Bishop Walton, one of the most learned divines who, in 1656, were publicly requested to examine the merits of the several translations and impressions of the Bible, and of whom it has been said, "a more competent judge cannot be produced by either friends or foes of our translation," he says: "The last English translation made by divers learned men at the command of King James, though it may justly contend with any now extant in any other language in Europe, was yet carped and cavilled at by diverse among ourselves; especially by one, who, being passed by, and not employed in the work, as one though skilled in the Hebrew, yet of little or no judgment in that or any other kind of learning, was so highly offended, that he would needs {248} show how many thousand places they had falsely rendered, whereas he could hardly make good his undertaking in any one."

3. Bishop Louth: "The vulgar translation of the Bible is the best standard of our language."

4. Dr. John Taylor, of Norwich, author of the excellent Hebrew and English Concordance.—"You may rest assured, that as our English translation is, in itself, by far the most excellent book in our language, so it is a pure and plentiful fountain of divine knowledge, giving a true, clear, and full account of the divine dispensation, and of the gospel of our salvation; insomuch that whoever studies the Bible, the English Bible, is sure of gaining that knowledge and faith, which, if duly applied to the heart and conversation, will infallibly guide him to eternal life."

5. Dr. Adam Clarke.—"Those who have compared most of the European translation with the original, have not scrupled to say, that the English translation of the Bible made under the direction of King James the First, is the most accurate and faithful of the whole. Nor is this its only praise; the translators have seized the very spirit and soul of the original, and expressed this almost everywhere with pathos and energy. Besides, our translators have not only made a standard translation, but they have made their translation the standard of our language. The English tongue in their day was not equal to such a work, but God enabled them to stand as upon Mount Sinai, and crane up their country’s language to the dignity of the originals; so that, after the lapse of nearly two hundred years, the English Bible is, with very few exceptions, the standard of the purity and excellence of the English tongue. The original from which it was taken, is alone superior to the Bible translated by the authority of King James."

6. The American Monthly Review.—"No new translation can succeed, which is not based upon that now in use. The phraseology of King James’s translation is connected too intimately with the religious impressions of individuals, and with almost all the religious literature extant in our language, to be renounced {249} by those who cherish the former and renounce the latter. Nor would we wish to renounce it, if the Christian public would consent to it. It is euphonious, elegant, and lofty. It comprises few words now obsolete—few which every well-trained child does not understand. And King James’s translation has been itself the reason why its phraseology has not become obsolete. It has been as an anchor to the English language, which, before that work was undertaken, had been constantly fluctuating."

The late Rev. Samuel B. Wylie, D.D. for many years Professor of Languages in the University of Pennsylvania, speaking of different translations—the Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate, etc, said: "The English version is the cream of them all."