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Letters Of George Borrow by George Borrow

To the Editors of El Espanol

GENTLEMEN, -- My attention has this moment been directed by a friend to a letter which appeared in your journal of the 5th instant, signed Jose Francisco Garcia and prefixed to a circular of the Governor of the See of Valencia, the object of which is to forbid the purchasing or reading of the Castilian version of the Bible by Father Felipe Scio, as edited in London by the British and Foreign Bible Society, and which the Agent of the Society at Valencia has announced for sale.

Did the principles of the Bible Society permit them to rejoice at the misfortunes of their fellow-creatures, even of their enemies, the style and tone which the writer of this epistle has, unfortunately for himself and his cause, adopted, would afford them plenteous matter for congratulation. He calls himself an ecclesiastic and talks about 'the sacred duty of his august ministry,' and for the purpose, I suppose, of showing how strictly he fulfils the precepts of his mild Master and Redeemer, he styles the Society in question 'an infernal Society,' and speaks of 'its accursed fecundity.' Goodly words! Charitable words! May I be permitted to enquire in what part of the sacred writings he found them recommended? Perhaps in the following text of the Vulgate: --

'Vae vobis Scribae et Pharisaei hypocritae, qui decimatis mentham, et anethum, et cyminum, et reliquistis quae graviora sunt legis, judicium, et misericordiam, et fidem. Haec oportuit facere, et illa non omittere.'

Matt. cap. xxiii. vers.23.

Ay de vosotros, Escribas y Phariseos hipocritas, que diezmais la yerba buena, y el eneldo, y el comino, y habeis dexado las cosas, que son mas importantes de la Ley, la justicia, y la misericordia, y la fe! Esto era menester hacer, y no dexar lo otro.

The British and Foreign Bible Society is an infernal society and consequently its members, one and all, are children of the devil. Now, what is required to constitute a child of the devil, according to the opinion of the Founder of Christianity -- of Jesus -- the Living Word -- the Eternal God? Let me quote His own words, according to the Vulgate, the book of the Church of Rome:

'Vos ex patre diabolo estis: et desideria patris vestri vultis facere. Ille homicida erat ab initio, et in veritate non stetit, quia non est veritas in eo: cum loquitur mendacium, ex propriis loquitur, quia mendax est et pater ejus.'

Joan. cap. viii. vers.44.

'Vosotros sois hijos del diablo, y quereis cumplir los deseos de vuestro padre: el fue homicida desde el principio, y no permanecio en la verdad; porque no hay verdad en el: quando habla mentira, de suyo habla; porque es mentiroso, y padre de la mentira.'

By this it should appear that the infernal Bible Society by the propagation of the Scriptures merely fulfils the desire of its father the devil, and disseminates that which is his. Being a child of the devil it cannot propagate truth; it propagates the Gospel, and nothing else -- ergo, the Gospel is a lie and the father of it the devil.

But the Bible Society is accused, not only in the circular, but in the epistle which introduces it to the Espanol, of vending a mutilated and curtailed version of the holy books. It is accused of omitting six of the books which are generally bound up with what is denominated the Bible; viz., Tobias, Judith, Baruch, Sabiduria, Eclesiastico, y 1o y 2o de los Machabeos. The Christian ecclesiastic, the author of the epistle, in indignation at this omission becomes suddenly argumentative, and puts a case to the heretics, which he deems in point; 'Si vieran la luz publica las obras de Lutero mutiladas en sus principales capitulos, y transformadas en cierto modo sus maximas y preceptos; que diligencias no practicarian sus secuaces y discipulos? Se levantarian a una en tropas numerosas para sostener el honor de su preceptor, y con el fin de dejar en su justo lugar a su amado maestre, recurririan a sus escritos originales, manifestarian en su apoyo los manuscritos, apelarian a todo linage de argumentos para acreditar la ilegitimidad de aquella edicion, y emplearian sus declamaciones y raciocinios para ascar los medios rateres e ilicitos de que se valia el catolicismo.'

Hear it in Gath! hear it in Gilead! hear it on the hills of Israel! yea let the furthest corners of the earth hear it! The principal chapters of the Bible are not those of the New Testament, which contains the will and words of the Saviour, by whom we are to be judged -- not those of Isaiah, who foretold so beautifully and distinctly the coming of that Saviour to the world -- not those of Moses, who wrote of things in their earliest date, and so nobly depicted the progress of the creation, -- but those of the books of Tobit, Baruch, etc., books which the Roman Church itself has called apocryphal, and the greater part of which exhibit an internal character of spuriousness which precludes the possibility of their being the offspring of inspired minds, though they contain some things useful and instructive, such as may be found in the writings of the early doctors, who however never claimed nor were deemed to possess the gift of inspiration from on high.

Let me here ask: what is to be discovered in the chapters of Tobit, etc., of first rate importance to the Christian in his worldly pilgrimage, or which serves to corroborate and illustrate other parts of Scripture? Above all, is Christ crucified spoken of or hinted at, as in the authenticated writings of the Prophets? If not, what is their value in comparison with that of other books of Scripture, even could their authenticity be proved?

Now to that point. This Christian ecclesiastic calls with a loud voice upon his brethren to prove by pamphlets and writing the divinity of the books of Tobit, Judith, etc. Yea, let them accomplish that -- let them bring sufficient evidence that these apocryphal writings were held in veneration by the Jews, that they enjoyed a place in the sanctuary along with the inspired writings, let them show that they were penned by Prophets, above all let them produce the originals -- and the Bible Society will immediately admit them into its editions. Why not? I am not aware that one point of doctrine, either Protestant or Roman, depends upon their reception or rejection.

In conclusion. What struck me most on the perusal of this singular epistle, all the main points of which I believe I have tolerably well answered, and without much trouble, was the ignorance more than childish, the extraordinary, unaccountable ignorance, which the author displays on the subject on which he has written, and all which relates to it, notwithstanding that subject is a religious one, and he, an ecclesiastic as he gives the world to know, standing forward as champion of the Church of Rome. He is evidently as well acquainted with Scripture and the works of the Fathers as with the Talmud and Zend-avesta, and with the ideas and dogmas of those whom he calls heretics, as with the religious opinions of the Mongols and the followers of the Lama of the Himalayan hills. The miserable attack which, in his rancorous feebleness, he has just committed on the Bible Society will redound merely to his own shame and ridicule, and the disgrace of the sect to which he belongs. What could persuade him to speak of the Vulgate? What could induce him to grasp that two-edged sword? Does it not cut off his own hands? Does the Vulgate allude to the Bible Society, or to him and his fellows, when it cries: --

Vae vobis legisperitis, quia tulistis clavem scientiae, ipsi non introistis: et eos, qui introibant, prohibuistis. -- Lucae, cap. xi. vers.52.

'Ay de vosotros, Doctores de la Ley que os alzasteis con la llave de la ciencia! vosotros no entrasteis, y habeis prohibido a los que entraban.'

And again: --

Qui ex Deo est, verba Dei audit. Propterea vos non auditis, quia ex Deo non estis. -- Joan. cap. viii. vers.47.

'El que es de Dios, oye las palabras de Dios. Por eso vosotros no las ois, porque no sois de Dios.'

What could induce him to speak of Luther and his works? What does he, what do his abettors, know of Luther and his writings, or of the ideas which the heretics entertain respecting either? I will instruct them. Luther was a bold inquiring man, with some learning; he read the Scriptures in the original tongues, and found that their contents were in entire variance with the doctrines of the Church of the Seven Hills; he told the world so, as other men had done, with feebler voices, before, and the best part of the world believed -- not him -- but the Scripture, for he gave it to them in a shape which they could understand. The heretics look not for salvation by the merits either of Luther or Calvin, for merits they had none -- being merely the instruments which Providence selected to commence a great work which He has hitherto not thought proper to perfect. The heretics look for salvation to Christ and hope to be forgiven by lively faith in Him and by virtue of His blood-shedding. They trust not in Peter nor in Paul -- both men and sinners -- in Luther nor in Calvin -- greater sinners still -- but in Christ alone. They trust not in stick nor stone, in picture nor in image, in splinter of cross nor bone of saint, but in Christ alone -- not in His mother or His brother -- He Himself has said: 'those that do the will of my Father that is in heaven, they are my mother, they are my brethren.'

Quae est mater mea, et qui sunt fratres mei? . . .

Quicumque fecerit voluntatem Patris mei, qui in coelis est, ipse meus frater et soror et mater est. -- Matt. cap. xii. vers.48-50.

Christ alone is the foundation and cope-stone of the true Church.


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