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ANNALS OF THE ENGLISH BIBLE, FROM 1524 to 1844. By the
Rev. CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON. 2 Vols. 8vo. London : Pickering, 1845.
When the possessor of an old Family or when they were a costly gift, he Bible casts his eyes upon the names will look on the donor's name with written in its blank leaves, he sees especial respect, as that of a person first, perhaps, a name otherwise un- but for whose zeal, or liberality, the known to him, but written there as first of his forefathers on the list that of the donor of God's written might never have tasted the sincere word to one of his forefathers; and milk of the word, nor have left the then their names in succession; one blessing of a pious father's prayers to written carelessly; another with a those who followed him. He should schoolboy's stiffness, as by a hand like to know what risk the donor little accustomed to using the pen; underwent in performing this work another followed by a pious wish, yet of charity;* and whether he had the expressed in such formal style as gratification of seeing the good seed, almost implies that there was no real which he had thus charitably sown, accompanying prayer to God, to "give taking deep root, and bringing forth him grace therein to look.” To the fruit to God; was the gift at first recharacters of the parties, except the ceived with contempt, or
was it one or two last, its present owner has grasped with trembling eagerness? probably no clue, though by birth How was it valued by the following their descendant; and yet this last generations ? The man to whom the fact is sufficient to give him such an Scriptures have not been a treasure, interest in them, that he would gladly must by them be condemned. know the only part of their history Now what the owner of such an which is now of any real consequence, old Bible might thus like to know and which is intimately connected respecting its
past history, is nearly with this blessed Book-was it to what Mr. Anderson has, by much them a savour of life unto life, or a laborious research,collected the means savour of death unto death? The of telling us, in his history of our answer to that question would decide national inheritance, the English whether they are now in the happy Bible. Unlike the greater part of place and number of the friends of learned men, in their
of narrating God, or among the miserable multi- history, he has made it his especial tude to whom the Lord saith, “De- object, from the beginning to the end part from me; I never knew you." of his very interesting work, to prove
If this hereditary Bible be older and enforce the fact, that not to man's than our present version, and the devices, but to the overruling providate of its gift goes back to times dence and bounty of God, we wholly when the possession of the Scriptures owe the inestimable privilege of posin our mother tongue was perilous, sessing such a Bible, and in such un
* In Foxe's extracts from the registers of the Diocese of Lincoln, between 1518 and 1521, when John Longland, confessor to Henry VIII. was its bishop, (Martyrs, b. vii.) are the following, among other similar entries :" Rob Colins, being sworn (compul. sorily, upon the Evangelists, did detect Rich. Colins, of Ginge'; first, for that the said Rich. did read unto the said Rob the Ten Commandments,
and after taught him the Epistle of St. James, and another small Epistle of Peter, and after that took him the Gospel of St. John in English, and bade him read therein himself. Richard Colins was also charged with having certain English books, as Wicliffe's Wicket, The Gospel of St. John, the Epistles of St. Paul, James, and Peter, in English, a Book of Solomon in English, and an Exposition of the Apocalypse. Roger Dods, of Burford, by his oath, was compelled to utter inform against) John Phip, of Hickenden, for reading unto the said Roger a certain Gospel in English ; also to utter Henry Miller for showing him a certain story of a woman in the Apocalypse, riding upon a red beast.”
precedented abundance, and of our amply was he repaid, when he heard highly favoured country's being made
his Lord say,
Well done thou good the source from whence, as from a and faithful servant, enter thou into rich fountain of the water of life, the the joy of thy Lord.” And then he word of God is now flowing forth would indeed count all the past but a over the whole world.
light and brief affliction; knowing of But if it were the Lord's purpose a surety that it had wrought for him to mark his work of mercy as his own, a far more exceeding and eternal revelation teaches us that one of the weight of glory. features by which he has ever been This William Tyndale, therefore, wont to distinguish his own way of
should be held in affectionate rememworking from man's, has been by brance by all to whom English is the choosing the weak things of the world mother tongue, as the man who gave to confound the things which are our national family its old Family mighty. It was thus that He set up Bible, at the cost of his own life. a poor German monk, the son of a Whilst from his day down to our own labouring miner, to confront the time, the pains taken to improve this Emperor Charles V., the sovereign Bible, or the demand for copies, as of half Europe and the Indies, and to traced out by Mr. Anderson, can be trample on papal bulls, at which no bad test of the esteem in which monarchs had been used to quake. the word of God has been generally Yet Luther had a revered, and power- held by successive generations. ful, and firm supporter, the Prince In speaking thus of Tyndale, we Elector of Saxony, to stand by him desire ‘not to be thought so unin his utmost hour of need; nor was grateful to the memory of Wicliffe as the Swiss reformer, Zuinglius, left to have forgotten, that whilst the unprovided with the like support, whole existing church of Christ on from the sovereign magistracy of
earth has reason to honour his name, Berne, the city in which he preached, as that of the man chosen by God to and over which he may be said to lead the way, in dispelling the darkhave ruled. But for giving the Eng- ness and breaking the chains of polish Scriptures to our benighted fore- pery, our nation must ever acknowfathers, and for thus building, again, ledge that he first gave it a translaupon the Apostles and Prophets, our tion of the whole of Scripture; about Reformed Church, and that of Scot- 150
years before Tyndale renewed the land too, it pleased God to select, precious gift. But Wicliffe's translaand to fit for the work, an unpatron- tion was not fitted to form any part ized scholar, William Tyndale; and of the materials out of which Tyndale, to let him have no protector but Him- and succeeding labourers, composed self; so that whilst his offended so- our national Family Bible. For, in vereign, and that sovereign's active the first place, Wicliffe lived in times ministers, were hunting for his pre- of such ignorance, that the university cious life, Tyndale was left to toil at of Oxford could not supply its stuhis task for years, in poverty, and dents with any instruction in either secrecy, and exile, till having poured Hebrew or Greek, so that his was treasures, better than silver and gold, but a second-hand translation, from into the lap of his ungrateful, but the Latin Vulgate used by the popish much-loved native country, its trea- priests. Being thus but the copyist cherous emissaries brought him to a of a faulty copy, and unable to concruel death. But what then ! He sult the original Scriptures, he could had proceeded in his course as one not correct the inaccuracies of the who looked not at the temporal things, Vulgate, and he would sometimes be which are seen, (but at the eternal misled by its ambiguities. Hence, things which are not seen; and when for example, his translation, instead hurried out of this life in a fiery of exposing, had given the apparent chariot, which burnt indeed his flesh, sanction of Scripture to that most his spirit entered into the presence of
mischievous doctrine of the Romish the Saviour, whose soldier and ser- church, whereby men
are deluded vant he had been unto death; and into the belief that God thus requires them to make satisfaction for their the domesman bitake thee to a maysa sins, by submitting to do such pe- tirful axer, and the maystirful axer nance as a priest shall enjoin, rather sende thee into prisonn.” But Tynthan to turn away from their sins by dale--"Geve diligence that thou repentance. For where Wicliffe found mayst be delivered from hym, least the word pænitentia in the Vulgate, he brynge thee to the judge, and the connected with any part of the verb judge deliver thee to the joylar, and ago, he thought the Scripture spoke the joylar cast thee into presonn.” of doing penance; and thus he made Or if we turn to a well-known text our Lord say, in Luke xiii. 5., “Ye in the epistle to Titus, we read in all shall perish, if ye do not penance."* Wicliffe's version," Bi his merci Tyndale, on the other hand, translating he made us saaf, bi waischyng of from the Greek original, had no such aghenbigetyng and aghen newyng," ambiguity to mislead him; and there
In Tyndale,—" Of his mercie fore rendered the Lord's words, as he saved us, by the fountain of the every
Greek scholar would, “Except newe birth, and with the renuynge,” ye repent ye shall all likewise perish." &c. But farther, in Wicliffe's time the Lastly, as printing was not invented English language was in such an un- when Wicliffe translated the Bible, settled state that many of the words, every copy of it was a transcript in his translation, had become unin- made by the pen of an artist, trained telligible in the course of a century to form each letter with a precision and a half. Whereas Tyndale having and regularity nearly equal to that of a better choice of words, was enabled the types used in a press; so that the by the power and popularity of his price of a Bible must needs have been translation, to give our tongue that such as would repay an artist, whose fixedness which has been a very great
skill would entitle him to high wages, advantage to the readers of our Bible. for the length of time requisite to the Thus, whereas Wicliffe makes the completion of so long a task, which sermon on the mount begin as fol- could not be hastened without great lows :
“ Blessid be pore men in danger of being found too incorrect spirit; for the kyngdom of hevenes for sale. Indeed we know that one is herun. Blessid ben mylde men; of Wicliffe's New Testaments cost for thei schulen weelde the erthe.' £2 16s. 8d. in 1429; when a ploughTyndale's translation of those verses man could earn but a penny, and a is the same as we still retain. Verse
stone-cutter but 4d. a-day. Hence 17 of the same chapter, in Wicliffe's Wicliffe's Bible, instead of being a translation, is, “ Nyle que deme that family book, could only be purchased I cam to undo the lawe or the pro- by the rich; and as very few of the phet is : I cam not to undo the lawe, rich had received the love of the Gosbut to fulfille.” Tyndale, “ye shall pel, the copies made were so few, that not thinke that I am come to disanull many inquirers about ourancient literthe lawe, or the prophets. No; I am ature have been left in doubt, whether not come to disanull them, but to Wicliffe did translate the whole Bible. fulfyll them.” If we turn to another And when printing was invented, part of the same discourse, as pre- and Caxton had brought the art into served in Luke xii. 58., Wicliffe England, which he did not do till translates thus, “Do bisiness to be 1474, he and the few other printers dyleverid fro him, lest peraventure in England up to Tyndale's time, he take thee to the domesman; and seeking the patronage of the great,
* As the word penance was originally but an abbreviation of the Latin pænitentia, and therefore properly meant the same thing, viz. repentance, some of our reformers attempted to bring it into use again with its original meaning, (as in our Communion Service, where it is said, “Bring forth worthy fruits of penance,'') but usage had fas= tened the popish meaning upon the word so firmly, that the attempt could not succeed. Wieliffe was not heedless of the meaning which common use had attached to penance ; and he therefore employed repent, or the equivalent old English word forthink, now obsolete, where the Vulgate has pænitet, or where it has pænitentia joined with the verbs duco, moveo, or habeo.
entirely prostituted their admirable It is from the period of Tyndale's art to the fulfilling of the desires of being prepared by the providence of the flesh and of the mind, printing, God for this blessed work, to the refor the most part, nothing but stimu- cent wonderful effect of steam and lants to vanity, pride, and lust. In- competition, in so reducing the price deed to have printed any portion of a of a Bible, as to make it purchasable book so offensive to the Popish priest- with less than one day's wages of a hood as God's holy word, would have common labourer, that Mr. Anderson exposed the printer to punishment, has searched out and narrated the under Archbishop Arundel's consti- Annals of the English Bible; and, tution, that is an ecclesiastical law, writing history as a Christian should, passed at Oxford.
he has taken care to point out, in therefore, for the persons mentioned every stage of his interesting narrain a previous note were of that con- tive, the many circumstances which dition, though thirsting for the word peculiarly mark the hand of God, in of God, could only afford to purchase what he has had to relate. a single fragment, as it were, of the The conclusion he draws is irresisScriptures at a time, the Epistle of tible, “That no Christians upon earth James for example, or at most but are so bound, in common gratitude, one of the Gospels, till Tyndale found to use the Scriptures, to love the printers in Germany, who were will- Scriptures, and to promote the circuing, for lucre's sake, to print as he lation of the Scriptures, as those translated, first the Gospels, and then whose mother tongue is English, whethe whole New Testament.
ther they be Britons or Americans.”
(To be continued.)
“THE LAY CHURCHMAN.”
To the Editor of the Christian Guardian. DEAR SIR,-A new periodical has ment, lest the storm should overtake just made its appearance. Its second number only is before the public. Its It is not necessary to discuss the name, “The Lay Churchman." It several articles in the two numbers, professes to be the expression of the On the whole they are ably written, sentiments of laymen, conscientiously moderate and fair in their pretensions, and heartily members of the Esta- and dictated by a kind spirit towards blished Episcopal Church, approving the Establishment; but that is not of its orders, its liturgy generally, and the main point. It is this, that the its doctrines; but at the same time, thousands and tens of thousands of it announces itself as the organ of a the laity are about to assert their right spirit of reform, rising among the in- to be heard on the great and pressing telligent laity, and claiming serious question of national Church reform; and deliberate attention. Such a pub- and it is every day becoming a matter lication is not a trifle. It ought to of more momentous consideration, produce impression in important whether or not the dignified rulers of quarters; for it is surely a sign of the the Church are to hang upon the times. Subordinate minds may see wheel of progress towards improvein it only a small cloud like a man's ment, for which the age is calling, hand, arising out of the sea; but to till the million shall take the work the deeply-informed and contempla- indignantly and rudely out of their tive prophet of the Church of God, it is hands; or whether they aid now portentive of a great movement in the wisely and liberally, while the opporecclesiastical atmosphere---of agather- tunity of a cordial and gratuitous ing storm. It is a call to arise quickly, move toward that amelioration is and
way of improve given. Our clerical leaders, the right reverend Fathers of the Church, pictures and statues, &c. The slender should address themselves to the menage of the artist is the ready ally of duty, and meet the now reasonable, the superstitionist and the antiquary. but rising, and probably, at length, And in this way an insidious influimpatient and unjust demands of the ence in favour of the one party, rises people, by a salutary revision of the like a flood with the growing populaestablished institution.
tion, and with the eagerly fostered There is an essential division of taste for luxury, in an increasingly opinion among men, growing more wealthy nation. Art, hungry and distinct and manifest every day. On greedy, rushes into every avenue that the one hand, customs, and ways, superstition opens, and thus helps forand forms, and ceremonies are valued ward the movement in favour of the because they are antiquated, and just antiquated and the past. It would in proportion as they are so; on the not be easy to determine, which has other, things are only estimated by done most to the advancement of a their actual present utility and adap- taste for popish modes of thought in tation to the purposes for which they the last two years—Hullah's classes, profess to exist.
or Berlin wool; while, at the same The one, without at all necessarily time, the parties most under the inundervaluing great principles, attaches fluence of either, would lift up their great importance to the parapherna- hands in sincere astonishment, and lia and adscititious circumstances of ask, “what on earth have they to office, to sumptuary laws, to the do with such momentous questions?” judge's wig and robes, to the surplice Yet draw aside the tasteful drapery and the hood, et hoc genus omne. The of the boudoir, and you shall see the other, if the mind, the spirit, the educated damsels of the land, not principle suited to the object is there, kneeling by the bed-side to pour forth has not only lost all value for the the simple effusions dictated by an mere official accompaniments, but honest heart; but chaunting an hymn has arrived at an impatience of all out of the breviary, as they just comsuch secondary and subordinate mat- fortably bend their knee upon the ters, and would prefer to be emanci- richly, embroidered prie-Dieu, that pated from their formality.
cost them, perhaps, a year's laborious These opposite dispositions are pre
effort. Berlin wool and score music paring for more determined collision. have altered the essential character of The one party is extolling the wisdom their religion. This is only a solitary of our ancestors, thinking scorn of instance of a very extensive class. the supposed improvement of modern The other party cherishes every day times, and would readily fall back more widely opposing sentiments. upon feudal classifications and popish They are the utilitarians. They value superstitions, upon sumptuary dis- established customs and ways, only tinctions of rank, and a wide and at what they appear to be worth for marked separation between the patri- accomplishing the proposed objects; cian and the plebeian-the lord and and, it is to be feared, that not generthe serf; whatever goes to touch, with ally possessing that higher spiritual the profession of change, the smallest qualification which opens to them the shred of the old system, seems to realization of things “not seen and touch the apple of their eye. Nor is eternal,” their notions of value are the effort made on this side a light measured only by the prospect of
All the arts and their amateurs utility for this present existence. To are with it. Every shop window
them the forms and ceremony of teems with evidences of the move- worship have little meaning or worth. ment; for, in an artificial state of so- They can have no sympathy with ciety, there are tens of thousands of episcopal thrones and palaces, and the artisans and artists who have little purple and gold bedizenments of archprospect of adequate support, but as bishops on special occasions. The they shall push forward the rage for religious association with such splenGothic architecture and embroidery, dour does not exist; and they can no the ornamenting of churches with more combine it with such views as