« PreviousContinue »
THE HISTORY AND FATE
THE SACRED WRITINGS,
EARLIEST PERIOD TO THE PRESENT CENTURY;
EMINENT BIBLICAL SCHOLARS.
BY REV. JAMES TOWNLEY, D. D
He w - York:
MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR.
In offering the present work to the American reader, the editor has thought a brief notice of the author would not be out of place. The following is taken from a Memoir published in the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine :
JAMES TOWNLEY was born of respectable parents in Manchester, May 11th, 1774. His father, Mr. Thomas Townley, was in extensive business. His mother, a very sensible woman, was a regular attendant at the services of the established Church, and an occasional hearer at the evening services in the Methodist chapel.
The care of his education was intrusted for some years to the late Rev. David Simpson, of Macclesfield: after his death he was continued at the school of his curate, where he was instructed in some departments of classical literature, and passed through the usual routine of an English education.
In his twenty-second year Mr. Townley was received on probation as a travelling preacher by the Wesleyan Methodist conference. From this time till the year 1832, when by a failure of health he was compelled to retire, a period of six-and-thirty years, he continued, with uniform consistency and increasing honour, to fulfil his duties as a minister, and to occupy some of the most important offices of the connection to which he belonged.
In addition to the advantages of education, Mr. Townley had received the impulse arising from early literary associations. While in Manchester he had become a member of a Philological Society, originated by the late Dr. Adam Clarke ; and, in common with many other young men, was urged, by the example and exhortations of that celebrated scholar, to great diligence in the pursuit of knowledge, the fruits of which were seen throughout his future course. His first publication of note was a volume of “ Biblical Anecdotes," which appeared in the year 1814. He had been desired by his children to preach them a sermon on the history of the Holy Scriptures, and on the early translations of them into different languages. As he found that they and others were delighted with the facts he had collected and arranged for their information, he yielded to the further request of his family, and prepared the volume already mentioned.
The work which next proceeded from his pen was one which procured to him considerable celebrity in the literary and religious world
6 2 2 O
Appearing about seven years after the publication of his “Biblical Anecdotes," it affords striking evidence that he continued his diligent researches into ecclesiastical history and sacred criticism with unabated ardour. It was entitled, “Illustrations of Biblical Literature, exhibiting the History and Fate of the Sacred Writings, from the earliest period to the present century, including notices of translators and other eminent Biblical scholars."
It was no small tribute to its worth, that a review of it, for the Methodist Magazine, was written by one of the most accomplished Biblical scholars of the age. He thus describes it :-“These volumes present a connected view of the history of Biblical translations from the earliest date to the present century, and are enriched by most copious and interesting biographical notices of the most eminent scholars and critics, and such occasional sketches of the history of the manners and superstitions of the darker ages, as may illustrate the advantages to be derived from a more general dissemination of the inspired writings."
On his visit to Ireland, as president of the conference, in the year 1830, he was congratulated by several members of the Dublin University, and the highest encomiums were pronounced on his performance.
The next contribution of Dr. Townley to the literature of his country was a translation into English of the “ More Nevochim of Maimonides ; or, Reasons for the Law of Moses,” with prefatory dissertations and appended notes, displaying considerable acquaintance with Jewish learning, and the results of much patient research.
Doctor Townley's last publication was an “Introduction to the critical Study of the Old and New Testaments,” imbodying much of that correct and interesting information which his peculiar taste and reading had rendered familiar to him. This volume has been very widely circulated, and is much admired. It is fully worthy of the piety and talents of its author. The book of God was his favourite study, and the productions of his pen chiefly tended to aid those who love to follow himn in tracing its interesting history, and are desirous to understand its sacred contents.
At the conference held in Sheffield, July and August, 1829, Dr. Townley was elected to the chair ; and thus received the highest honour Methodism confers, and the most decided proof of the confidence and love of his brethren in the ministry.
His sufferings terminated Dec. 12th, 1833, when he died in great peace, and in the full triumph of faith, in the sixtieth year of his age.
The present work was, upon its first appearance, favourably reviewed in several of the best periodicals in Great Britain. Nero-York, September, 1842.